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Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor (Awards)) Hardcover – November 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1-4–Fascinated by the Giant Sequoias they see during a California vacation, unnamed children listen to their father tell of the trees' namesake from the opposite side of North America. Thus, in short paragraphs accompanied by richly textured illustrations, Rumford presents the seminal events in Sequoyah's life, culminating in his invention of the Cherokee syllabary. The author writes with a concise eloquence that echoes the oral tradition and makes this one of those rare gems of read-aloud nonfiction. As in his other picture books, the artwork is executed in a style and medium that evoke the period and culture of the subject, in this case creating bold-lined scenes reminiscent of 19th-century woodblock prints. Done in ink, watercolor, pastel, and pencil, the illustrations were adhered to a rough piece of wood, and its textures were highlighted through the use of chalk and colored pencil. The perfect finishing element is the parallel text in Cherokee, which not only demonstrates the product of Sequoyah's genius but also makes this beautiful book readily accessible to Cherokee children in their own language. The end matter includes additional facts and the complete syllabary. Sequoyah is a perfect companion to Rumford's other picture books on important world scholars from history and legend–Jean-François Champollion, Ibn Battuta, Cadmus–whose (mostly linguistic) achievements are comparatively unsung. A must-have for all collections.–Sean George, Memphis-Shelby County Public Library & Information Center, Memphis, TN
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From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. This fascinating biography, presented in a tall, slim format, introduces Sequoyah, who decided in the early 1800s to give the Cherokee language a written form. Creating 84 symbols for sounds, he began to teach the language to others in the Cherokee nation. This technique spread, enabling the publication of books and newspapers, and it survives today. Below the paragraphs of English text, appearing usually on the book's right-hand pages, is a translation into the Cherokee language. Like the giant sequoia trees that appear in the framework story, the illustrations on the facing pages are vertical and stately. Created in ink, watercolor, pastel, and pencil, the unusual artwork has a primitive quality that reflects the strength and deceptive simplicity of the text. Back matter includes a chart showing the Cherokee syllabary, a discussion of Sequoyah and his accomplishment, and a time line of his life. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Series: Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618369473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618369478
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.4 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Well, it had to happen sometime. I knew it was just a matter of time before I found that I could no longer distinguish between amazingly well-written non-fiction picture books and adult non-fiction works of literature. It all came to a head when I sat down to read James Rumford's remarkable, "Sequoyah". A winner of the Sibert Honor, the book is a intelligent examination of the Cherokee metalworker who gave his people their own written language. Reading it, I found myself intensely interested in the book's subject and his amazing accomplishment of creating an entirely new written form. But I became depressed when I reached the end. Suddenly I wanted more information. More! I wanted to know what became of the Cherokee writing and what its state is today. It took an embarrassingly long time before I stopped blaming Rumford for being so paltry with his facts and remembered that I was not, in fact, reading an in-depth history but a remarkably interesting picture book. So ladies and gentlemen of the vast Internet universe, I can think of no higher praise to give this book than this: It makes grown adults forget what they're reading, so interesting is the material.

Rumford begins on a personal note. One year, as a child, his father brought him and his family to visit the great sequoia trees of California. And the man for whom these magnificent trees are named? A leader of his people though, as Rumford's father would say, "but not as you may think?". Thus begins the history of Sequoyah. The son of a Cherokee woman and a white father he worked as a metalworker and, at the age of fifty, decided to capture his people's voices before they were wiped out by the whites.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LL on January 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book just won a Sibert Honor Award, given at the American Library Association meeting where they give out the Caldecott and Newberry awards and others, for its contribution to children's literature. This is a Big Deal! It's a FANTASTIC book. You won't regret getting this book. It's what I'm giving all the kids on my list this year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Sack VINE VOICE on January 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This a picture book biography of Sequoyah. I learned that he was the creator of the Cherokee alphabet. His friends teased him but he kept working anyway. He was a very smart man.

The book has beautiful illustrations. I never knew about Sequoyah before reding this book. It was a nice introduction to his life.

I would recommend this book to kids who are teased for one reason or another. Sequoyah followed his dreams when he was teased. He is a good role model for kids today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Petrides on September 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book cost me ten bucks and it was a ten page picture book. I never would have downloaded it if I had known it was so short. My daughter finished the book in 2 minutes
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All of my grandchildren are now reading chapter books and my daughter said that her step-son (age 9) was interested in history, as is his step-brother. This looked to me to be a quite interesting read for a Christmas 2013 gift. I worried about the delivery, thought the shipper (not Amazon) sent it in the USPS two days after it was ordered the 3rd of December. I had to ship the gifts from Illinois to Kentudky by the 20th. As I wrapped presents and packed them in a box on the night of the 19th, I was panicking as it had not been delivered and he would be short a gift (something that, in my experience, should never happen on Christmas morning). The next morning as I was readying boxes for shipping by USPS, the book finally arrived, much to my relief. His step-mother said he liked it!
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By JEK teacher on February 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, this is a good kids' book, well-written and interesting.
Secondly, it's a look at Native American culture without the politically correct agenda.
Thirdly, if you are interested in languages or language translation, this is a fantastic (and simple) look at
translating a formerly unwritten language using syllables instead of an alphabet. Add to that the fact that
the translation was done by a native speaker rather than a language translator.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our history lesson mentioned Sequoyah...something I'd never heard before. I decided to get a book about him and once I received this I thought my nephew would enjoy it. He's 13 years old. He needed some help understanding portions of it but loved the book, reading way ahead of the schedule we had set up. He's giving his oral book report this week; I've reviewed his outline and it's obvious he learned a lot from the book.

I just love it when kids enjoy a book!
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Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor (Awards))
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