Indigenous People’s Day (Presidential Proclamation) Oct. 10, 2022
She Persisted: Maria Tallchief
Christine Day, Author
Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint, Illustrators
Philomel Books, Biography, Nov. 16, 2021
Suitable for ages: 6-9
Themes: Maria Tallchief, Native American, Ballerina, Biography, Making a difference
Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds–including Maria Tallchief!
In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Christine Day, readers learn about the amazing life of Maria Tallchief–and how she persisted.
Maria Tallchief loved to dance, but was told that she might need to change her Osage name to one that sounded more Russian to make it as a professional ballerina. She refused, and worked hard at dancing her best, becoming America’s first prima ballerina. Many famous American ballets were created for Maria!
Why I like She Persisted: Maria Tallchief:
Today is Indigenous People’s Day and I will celebrate by sharing the remarkable life of Maria Tallchief, written by Christine Day (Upper Skagit), an Indigenous author. What a perfect pairing! Maria was the daughter of a full-blooded Osage Indian father and a mother of Scotch-Irish descent. She was born in Oklahoma in 1925 and grew up on the Osage Indian reservation, where girls weren’t permitted to dance. Because of her own indigenous heritage, Day is able to give readers insight into many tribal customs.
As a child the sound of the beating drums filled Maria’s spirit and she moved to their rhythms. Her parents recognized her talent and didn’t stop her. And dance she did, overcoming many challenges along her way. Even though, she refused to change her name, she became America’s first prima ballerina. Little girls will be delighted to know she danced the Nutcracker and the Firebird, as well as many other important ballets.
Day is particularly adept at showing how difficult it was for a Native American to achieve such success. Her story-like text moves along at a quick pace, relating important information that readers will find appealing. There are six chapters in the book. It is well-targeted for its intended audience. Make sure you check out the introduction from Chelsea Clinton. Gillian Flint’s expressive and simple pen and ink drawings compliment the story for readers and give them a peek into Maria’s early life.
At the end, Day includes a section for readers about “How You Can Persist” and follow in the footsteps of Maria Tallchief. Also check out the She Persisted Club page where readers can join and view a video with Christine Day. There is also a downloadable guide.
The She Persisted books are among my favorites to share, because they introduce emerging readers (6 to 9) to stories about girls who have big dreams and pursue them with passionate determination, no matter the challenges before them. In Tallchief’s case, her passion and dedication to her art carried her to the top and she ended up inspiring audiences — especially little girls — around the world. She was also a teacher and mentor to many.
There are 20 books about American women that have been released monthly from 2021 to 2022. They include Harriet Tubman, Claudette Colvin, Sally Ride, Virginia Apgar, Nelly Bly, Sonia Sotomayor, Florence Griffith Joiner, Ruby Bridges, Clara Lemlich, Margaret Chase Smith, Maria Tall Chief, Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey and Coretta Scott King, Temple Grandin, Mala Yousafzai. Marian Anderson, and Maya Lin, Rosalind Franklin and Wangari Maathai will be released in coming months. They may be purchased individually in paperback, or in a chapter book collection. And, they can be found in libraries. This entire series belongs in every school library.
Christine Day (Upper Skagit) grew up in Seattle, nestled between the sea, the mountains, and the pages of her favorite books. Her debut novel, I Can Make This Promise, was a best book of the year from Kirkus, School Library Journal, NPR, and the Chicago Public Library, as well as a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book, and an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book. Her second novel, The Sea in Winter, was published in 2021. She also wrote the forthcoming She Persisted: Maria Tallchief, an early reader biography in a new series inspired by Chelsea Clinton’s bestselling picture book. Christine lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Visit Christine had her website.
*Reviewed from a library copy.