CN citizen’s debut picture book receives prestigious Robert F. Sibert Honor

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/12/2019 02:15 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Sorell’s debut picture book, “We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,” has received the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, a prestigious award for books published for children ages birth through 14. COURTESY
WATERTOWN, Mass. – Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Sorell’s debut picture book, “We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,” has received the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, a prestigious award for books published for children ages birth through 14.

Sorell’s book received one of five honor medals announced on Jan. 28 at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Seattle where winners and recipients were honored with the industry’s biggest prizes for children’s literature.

“I’m shocked, humbled and grateful all at once,” Sorell said. “There were so many great nonfiction books published last year.”

“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,” was released in September 2018. It has since received four-star reviews from industry press, including The Horn Book, Kirkus Review, Shelf Awareness and School Library Journal. The National Council for Teachers of English also recently recognized the book with an honor designation for their prize, the Orbis Pictus. Publishers Weekly blogger, author and bookstore owner, Elizabeth Bluemle said the book “feels like a gift.”

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, established by the Association for Library Service to Children in 2001 with support from Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois. Honor books are designated as books that are truly distinguished and carry The Robert F. Sibert Honor Book seal.

“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga” guides readers, season by season, through a year of a contemporary Cherokee community, incorporating Cherokee vocabulary and syllabary throughout. Otsaliheliga expresses gratitude and reminds readers to celebrate and reflect on life’s blessings and challenges. Illustrator Frané Lessac’s “lively” artwork enhances this beautiful celebration of culture, family, community and life.

Sorell began writing for young people when she saw a lack of literature featuring Native Americans to share with her son, Carlos. She has a master's degree in American Indian Studies and has worked as an attorney assisting tribal courts nationwide, advocated for national Native American health care and directed a national nonprofit serving American Indian and Alaska Native elders. She lives in Wagoner County in Oklahoma.

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