cover image At the Mountain’s Base

At the Mountain’s Base

Traci Sorell, illus. by Weshoyot Alvitre. Kokila, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7352-3060-6

In an author’s note, Sorell (We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga), who is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, explains that Native women have served in the U.S. Armed Forces “at proportionately higher rates than all other Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard Servicemembers.” In this lullaby-like poem, she imagines the Cherokee family of one such woman. The lines join with an incantatory rhythm: “At the mountain’s base/ grows a hickory tree. Beneath this sits a cabin./ In that cabin” a grandmother weaves with help from younger women and a small girl. The women, “tending and singing,” praise a missing family member: a WWII military pilot flying a combat mission. Alvitre (Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream), who is Tongva/Scots-Gaelic, paints her in her cockpit above the clouds as her thoughts circle back to her family: “Within that pilot/ forms a prayer,/ pleading for peace./ Because at the mountain’s base,/ beneath the hickory tree” awaits her beloved family. High above, with flowing hair and outstretched arms, the figure of a larger-than-life entity watches over the family and the pilot. Sorell honors an Oglala Lakota pilot and holds up her courage in this expansive, intimate picture book. Ages 4–8. [em](Sept.) [/em]