Jenna, a contemporary Muscogee (Creek) girl in Oklahoma, wants to honor a family tradition by jingle dancing at the next powwow. But where will she find enough jingles for her dress? An unusual, warm family story, beautifully evoked in Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu's watercolor art.
Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2001, National Council for SS & Child. Book Council
About the Author
Like Rain, author Cynthia Leitich Smith was raised, at least in part, in northeastern Kansas. Smith attended college in Douglas County, the home of fictional Hannesburg, and completed a journalism degree at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. During college, she worked at a few small-town newspapers as a reporter. Then she earned a law degree at the University of Michigan. Today she lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two gray tabby cats. She's a mixed blood, enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
Cynthia Smith is also the author of the picture book Jingle Dancer, which Publishers Weekly called a "heartening portrait of a harmonious meshing of old and new"In Her Own Words
I'm a mid-to-southwestern kind of gal. Growing up, I lived in the Kansas City area, on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the state line, and as I grew older, I lived in Oklahoma, Michigan, and Illinois. Today Austin, Texas, is my home.
I was an only child, whose constant companions were a dog named Sir Gahald XIII (but called "Tramp") and an array of library books.
I developed an interest in reading at an early age, and won my local public library reading contest in Grandview, Missouri, when I was in the third grade. Some of my favorite books were Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume; and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. Through reading I cultivated a desire to write, and published my first piece in the "Dear Gaby" column in the sixth-grade paper.
My interest in writing continued through high school, during which I edited the newspaper and pursued both dancing and cheerleading. After finishing high school in 1986, I went on to become the first person in my family to graduate from college. There I spent much of my time writing as a minority issues reporter for the campus newspaper and eventually completed my undergraduate studies in 1991 with a degree in journalism.
I never thought of writing and reading fiction as a viable career option, and so I finished law school in 1994, where I had been president of the Native American Law Student's Association. For a while I worked in a federal law job in Chicago, but I was bored. I decided that in order to be happy I needed to turn to something that not only mattered to me, but also affected others in a positive way. So I quit my job and embarked on a new career as a children's author
What I enjoy most about writing are the challenges. I like writing for different genres, and have so far written a picture book, a chapter book, and a middle-grade novel. Truthfully, I just want to continue improving. Once I create my characters, they begin to fashion the setting and plot around themselves. I assume very little at the beginning, and am always surprised by what I find.
I know that people often characterize my stories as "Native American" or of some similar nature and that's fine for reference purposes, but I intend for my books to go deeper than that. I try to weave real life into the stories naturally, helping me to attain my goal of offering a unique cultural and literary world through characters that laugh, cry, breathe, and, most importantly, live.