cover image Talking Leaves

Talking Leaves

Joseph Bruchac. Dial, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3508-8

The Cherokee villagers of Willstown avoid Uwohali’s father, Sequoyah—despite his artistry and storytelling skills—believing that his fascination with strange symbols indicates witchcraft. Although Sequoyah has been largely absent from his son’s life, traveling and starting a new family with a second wife, Uwohali braves the villagers’ ill will to visit his recently returned father and is rewarded with a devoted half sister and his father’s new invention, a Cherokee syllabary. Frustrated by false promises and loss of land due to treaties broken by the government, Sequoyah seeks power and community through the syllabary, which allowed the Cherokee to create their own texts, or talking leaves. Based on historical events, Bruchac’s (Killer of Enemies) lyrical novel is filled with myths and fables that serve as guides for Uwohali as he comes to understand the importance of his father’s creation. Wrenching descriptions of the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend help transform an ostensibly simple story into a profound cautionary tale of what can happen without a language of one’s own. An afterword and reproduction of the syllabary are included. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Barbara Kouts, Barbara Kouts Agency. (Aug.) [/em]