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Red Bird Sings
Cover of Red Bird Sings
Red Bird Sings
The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist
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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...
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...
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  • 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 have told about 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."

 

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About the Author-

  • 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.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 25, 2011
    Capaldi and Pearce document the life of Gertrude Simmons, an author, musician, and activist best known by her pen name, Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird). Drawing from semiautobiographical stories that Zitkala-Sa wrote for the Atlantic Monthly in the early 1900s, Capaldi and Pearce eloquently describe her experience at a Quaker boarding school, where she laments the loss of her culture, but also develops passions for violin and women's suffrage. Reconciling her new identity with her roots, she writes and stages "The Sun Dance Opera" and advocates for Native American rights. Capaldi's understated illustrations integrate solid colors and doll-like characterizations with reproductions of period materials, while appended information on Sitkala-Sa rounds out this fascinating portrait. Ages 8–12.

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2011

    Gr 3-6-This picture-book biography of Zitkala-Sa, a young Sioux girl born in 1876 in South Dakota, adapts and paraphrases some of her own autobiographical writings to trace her life from youth to adulthood. Born Gertrude Simmons, she was sent to an Indian boarding school in Indiana when she was eight, and it was through this education that she discovered a love and talent for music, writing, and public speaking, among other things. Her journey took her ever farther east, from college in Indiana to teaching in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, to finally fighting for Native American civil rights in Washington, DC, in the early 1920s. Each spread shares moments from her life as she struggled to survive in two very different worlds: the familiar Sioux reservation and the Anglo world that was opened up to her. While the text is modified for clarity for young audiences, it is still lyrical and compelling, drawing readers into the woman's life and work. The accompanying paintings are textured and sometimes layered with maps, pictures, and magazine pages that provide a rich complement to the story, conveying both emotion and depth. This unique format brings Zitkala-Sa's intriguing story to life, and engenders further exploration. Extensive back matter includes suggested readings, useful websites, and a bit more detail about Zitkala-Sa.-Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Media Connection

    "Adapted from her writings, this illustrated book tells the courageous story of Zitkala-Sa, also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin. Capaldi has illustrated the book throughout with richly colored paintings that capture the essence of the accompanying storyline. Assimilation into the dominant culture is not glossed over but handled in a delicate manner that accentuates the enormous obstacles Bonnin overcame. Bonnin is portrayed as a strong woman who fought not only for Native American rights but also for women's rights. Bonnin's gifts as a speaker, author, and musician helped to persuade people to believe in the power of her message. This title will fill the gap in most libraries of strong, non-stereotypical Native American role models. A bibliography and further readings are included." --Library Media Connection

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    Lerner Publishing Group
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Red Bird Sings
Red Bird Sings
The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist
Gina Capaldi
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Gina Capaldi
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