At the Mountain’s Base
By Traci Sorell
Illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
Kokila September 17, 2019
Ages Pre K-8
In At the Mountain’s Base, Traci Sorell shares the story of a Cherokee family tucked in a cozy cabin, preparing a daily meal as grandmother weaves nearby. As the family works, they sing, focusing their thoughts on a loved one, a US Air Force pilot “protecting and defending” far away. The family’s love and worries unfold in this simple, lyrical poem. Every sentence in the poem starts with a prepositional phrase, “On that stove,” “Around that grandmother,” “Within their song.” This consistent, cohesive pattern draws the reader in and pulls them gently through the family’s actions, those centered around a warm stove and those performed far off in the sky. Weshoyot Alvitre’s realistic illustrations clearly capture the different family members’ emotions, showing their love, worry, and pride. The Cherokee family highlighted in the poem is fictional. However, Sorell’s author’s note provides factual notes on the role of women from American Indian and Alaska Native Nations within the US Armed Forces. She specifically details the role of Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat, the only Native woman to serve as a Women Airforce Service Pilot during World War II. As a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Traci Sorell reveals the American Indian experience in a voice as authentic and respectful as in her previous picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (Charlesbridge, 2018). At the Mountain’s Base is a wonderful homage to Native veterans everywhere.
Many thanks to local author, SCBWI-IL member, and guest reviewer, Michelle Schaub. Schaub is a children’s poet and teacher from Downers Grove, Illinois. Her second poetry collection, FINDING TREASURE: A COLLECTION OF COLLECTIONS (Charlesbridge, 2019), shares a release date with AT THE MOUNTAIN’S BASE on September 17th. Learn more about Michelle and her books at http://www.michelleschaub.com