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Friday, July 24, 2009

Indian Shoes a Contemporary Story

Smith, Cynthia Leitich.
INDIAN SHOES
New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Interest Level: 4-8, Reading Level 5.2

Genre: Fiction
ISBN 006029532517

The opening paragraphs give a taste of the imagery spiced with humor that flavors Indian Shoes:

“Ray and Grampa Halfmoon traipsed down the cracked sidewalks of a steel and stone city. Ray tracked Grampa’s steps, danced to the rat-a-tat-a-clang of a trash-can band, and skipped beneath the ruffling branches.

“Let’s duck in here,” Grampa Halfmoon began, “and say ‘Morning.’”

When the wind whistled into Murphy Family Antiques, Ray and Grampa whistled in with it. At the welcome mat, Grampa said “Morning” to Junior Murphy.. Ray retied his neon orange shoelaces and took a look around the store.”

In the book, Indian Shoes, Smith gives a glimpse of contemporary life through the eyes of a young Seminole-Cherokee boy living in Chicago. Ray lives with Grampa Halfmoon. She weaves the love of a grandparent and grandchild throughout the six short stories in her book. Smith brings the characters to life with a light touch and a good dose of humor.

I believe this would make an excellent read aloud to share with 4-6th graders. I like the idea of using contemporary literature to set the stage for class discussions concerning the stereotype that Native American Tribes are gone and only existed in the past. This is a great piece to talk about diversity of Native American Tribes and that they have a living and evolving culture.

Teachers might want to pair this book with the short story “Medicine Bag” by Virginia Drive Hawk Sneve from her book Grandpa was a Cowboy & an Indian and other stories.

In the book, Indian Shoes, Ray Halfmoon lives with Grampa Halfmoon.Smith connects 6 short stories weaving the love of a grandparent and grandchild throughout the stories. She gives a glimpse of contemporary life through the eyes of a young Seminole-Cherokee boy living in Chicago. Smith brings the characters to life with a light touch and a good dose of humor.

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