Houghton Mifflin

Editor: Amy Flynn / Kate O’Sullivan

This story was born one morning on the way from the kitchen to the living room. I had a lot of information about Sequoyah floating in my head but I had no words to say what I knew. Then the words came out all at once, and I began speaking. Such an embarrassing situation would have easily been covered up, had I been out on the street. People would have assumed I was on my cel. But in my own house, the words echoed oddly as I took several turns around the wing-backed chairs.

Back in the kitchen,I grabbed a pen and wrote furiously. I began to see pictures and sketched them: simple pictures like Japanese woodcuts to convey the mood I wanted.

As the months passed, I wondered what my story would look like and sound like in Cherokee. I contacted Anna Huckaby, a native speaker of the language. She immediately agreed to turn my Latin-shaped letters into the symbols that Sequoyah created and my English sounds into the lilting flow of the Cherokee language. The result was a bilingual story.

As I look at the Cherokee letters, I cannot help but think that Sequoyah would have been pleased to see them there as well.