Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate and a New York Times bestselling author of books for young readers. She is also the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and serves as the Katherine Paterson Inaugural Endowed Chair on the faculty of the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cynthia is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and lives in Austin, Texas.

To see more of Cynthia's short stories, essays, and poems, take a look at her collected works for children and young adults on her website and blog, Cynsations.

Books by This Author

Feral Book 1: Feral Nights

Age Level: 14-16

When free-spirited werecat Yoshi sets out to find his missing sister, he's shocked to discover that she's the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, sarcastic werepossum Clyde and his human pal Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of a friend. When all three are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote tropical island ruled by a species that's unusual even by shape-shifter standards.

Feral Book 2: Feral Curse

Age Level: 14-16

The second installment of New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s thrilling Feral series delivers danger, romance, and suspense in an all new action-packed adventure. The adopted daughter of two respectable human parents, Kayla is a werecat in the closet. All she knows is the human world. When she comes out to her boyfriend, tragedy ensues, and her determination to know and embrace her heritage grows.

Feral Book 3: Feral Pride

Age Level: 14-16

The explosive finale to the Feral series by New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith. Anti-shifter sentiment is at an all-time high when Kayla’s transformation to werecat is captured on video and uploaded for the world to see. Suddenly she becomes a symbol of the werebeast threat and—along with fellow cat Yoshi, lion-possum Clyde, and human Aimee—a hunted fugitive. Meanwhile, a self-proclaimed weresnake has kidnapped the governor of Texas and hit the airwaves with a message of war.

Hearts Unbroken

Hearts Unbroken
Age Level: 12-14

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town.

Holler Loudly

Holler Loudly
Illustrated by: Barry Gott
Age Level: 6-9

Holler Loudly has a voice as big as the southwestern sky, and everywhere he goes, people tell him to "Hush!" From math class to the movies and even the state fair, Holler's LOUD voice just keeps getting him into trouble. But when a huge tornado comes twisting into town, Holler (with that voice of his!) saves the day. Readers will cheer for this rollicking story about celebrating our unique gifts, and Barry Gott's bright, fun illustrations will have you hollering for more.
 

Indian Shoes

Indian Shoes
Age Level: 6-9

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins... or hightops with bright orange shoelaces? Ray Halfmoon, a young Cherokee-Seminole boy living in Chicago with his grandpa, prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his grandpa. After all, it's Grampa Halfmoon who's always there to help Ray get in and out of scrapes and share a laugh. Award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith writes with wit and candor about a boy and his grandfather, sharing all their love, joy, and humor.

Jingle Dancer

Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

Jenna wants to dance in the powwow as her grandmother and other women in her family have. But she wonders: will she have enough jingles to make her dress sing? As Jenna finds a way to collect the jingles she needs, she learns more about her family and the traditions they have upheld across generations.

Traditional and contemporary activities come together in this appealing, clearly illustrated story of a modern girl and her background, based on the author's Muscogee (Creek) heritage.

 

Cynthia Leitich Smith talks about "Jingle Dancer"

Rain Is Not My Indian Name

Rain Is Not My Indian Name
Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Cassidy Rain Berghoff didn't know that the very night she decided to get a life would be the night that her best friend would lose his. It's been six months since her best friend died, and up until now Rain has succeeded in shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around her aunt Georgia's Indian Camp in their mostly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again — at least through the lens of her camera.

Santa Knows

Santa Knows
Age Level: 6-9

Cantankerous child Alfie F. Snorklepuss, who tells everyone who will listen that Santa Claus doesn't exist, gets a much-needed attitude adjustment from the man in red who takes him on an eye-opening journey to the North Pole.

Sisters of the Neversea

Sisters of the Neversea
Age Level: 9-12

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family — and their friendship? Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children, to a sea of merfolk, pirates, and a giant crocodile. A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

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Books by This Editor

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Age Level: 9-12

Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Created in partnership with We Need Diverse Books.