"I remember the day I lost my spirit." So begins the story of Gertrude Simmons, also known as Zitkala-Ša, which means Red Bird. Born in 1876 on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, Zitkala-Ša willingly left her home at age eight to go to a boarding school in Indiana. But she soon found herself caught between two worlds—white and Native American.
At school she missed her mother and her traditional life, but Zitkala-Ša found joy in music classes. "My wounded spirit soared like a bird as I practiced the piano and violin," she wrote. Her talent grew, and when she graduated, she became a music teacher, composer, and performer.
Zitkala-Ša found she could also "sing" to help her people by writing stories and giving speeches. As an adult, she worked as an activist for Native American rights, seeking to build a bridge between cultures.
The coauthors tell Zitkala-Ša’s life by weaving together pieces from her own stories. The artist's acrylic illustrations and collages of photos and primary source documents round out the vivid portrait of Zitkala-Ša, a frightened child whose spirit "would rise again, stronger and wiser for the wounds it had suffered."
As a freelance artist, Gina Capaldi has both written and illustrated books that range from nonfiction, educational, and picture books. Her favorite published works are her historical nonfiction, such as A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero. One of Gina's earlier books on American Indians has been recommended for elementary school social studies curriculum in the Virginia School systems. Gina Capaldi attended Malibu's Pepperdine University; Art Center & College of Design in Pasadena, California; and Pitzer College in Claremont, California.
Q. L. Pearce is the author of more than 100 nonfiction books for children on the subjects of science, literature, history, and values. Her published fiction includes more than a dozen collections of scary stories and mysteries. Q is the Assistant Regional Advisor in the Orange County region of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in Southern California.
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