RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2011).
RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME is the story of Cassidy Rain Berghoff, who reconnects to her family and community after the death of her best friend through the lens of a camera.
"Probably every first novel is at least quasi-autobiographical, and that's certainly true of this one. Like Rain, I grew up (in part) in Northeast Kansas and had ties to community journalism. I likewise enjoy Web design. More globally, it's often remarked that this book is stylistically drawn more from Native literary traditions than most children's books about Indian characters. I think that's part of my responsibility as a Native author, to honor and preserve those techniques and sensibilities.”
Book trailer by Shayne Leighton from round 5:
Kirkus Reviews calls it: "Tender, funny, and full of sharp wordplay..."
School Library Journal said: "It is one of the best portrayals around of kids whose heritage is mixed but still very important in their lives. It's Rain's story and she cannot be reduced to simple labels. A wonderful novel of a present-day teen and her 'patch-work tribe.'"
Publisher's Weekly: "...readers will feel the affection of Rain's loose-knit family and admire the way that they, like the author with the audience, allow Rain to draw her own conclusions about who she is and what her heritage means to her."
Children's Literature: "Smith (author of Jingle Dancer) portrays a protagonist with a genuine voice and an appealing sense of humor."
But opening a book isn't the only way to experience Rain's story. It's also available on tape from Listening Library, read by actress Jenna Lamia.
Audio File says: "Jenna Lamia's motherless Rain is as fresh, earnest, and appealingly impertinent as the character demands, while her secondary characters sing with individuality.... Rich with sorrow and the longing for resolution in a life diminished by loss, the story of Rain's journey toward her own identity is captivating and exceedingly hopeful."
The audio production was aired as the November 2005 Book of the Month by Red Tales, Aboriginal Voices Radio, The Earth 106.5 (based in Canada)
And more informally: "It's kind of like a combination of 'Northern Exposure' and 'Party of Five'." —Bob Langstaff, WAMV AM/Amhert, VA
Cynthia's debut novel RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME was published in trade and library editions by HarperCollins and released as a book on tape by Listening Library in July 2001. For this title, Cynthia was selected as a 2001 Writers of the Year in Children's Prose by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.
RAIN was also a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award, featured at the Second National Book Festival, the Texas Book Festival, the St. Petersburg Times' "You Gotta Read This Book Club," and included in GREAT BOOKS FOR GIRLS by Kathleen Odean.
June 2001 | 9780688173975; 0688173977 | HarperCollins | Hardcover | Tween Novel/Fiction | 144 Pages | Ages 10-up
Available also from Listening Library.