At the Mountain's Base

by Traci Sorell (Author) Weshoyot Alvitre (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A family, separated by duty and distance, waits for a loved one to return home in this lyrical picture book celebrating the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots.

At the mountain's base sits a cabin under an old hickory tree. And in that cabin lives a family -- loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. The strength in their song sustains them through trials on the ground and in the sky, as they wait for their loved one, a pilot, to return from war.

With an author's note that pays homage to the true history of Native American U.S. service members like WWII pilot Ola Mildred "Millie" Rexroat, this is a story that reveals the roots that ground us, the dreams that help us soar, and the people and traditions that hold us up.

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$17.09 $18.99

Kirkus Reviews

A Cherokee family’s worry for their loved one at war reminds readers of the sacrifices made by Natives in our military. 

Horn Book Magazine

Starred Review
Captures the emotions of families separated by war while introducing the reader to a part of history that is often erased.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 3--A military family awaits the return of their loved one in this lyrical tribute to modern warrior women. At the mountain's base, beneath a hickory tree, sits a cabin, and inside, next to a cozy stove, a grandmother weaves and prays, surrounded by family members singing. Within their song, a pilot flies into danger seeking peace, and Sorell's simple yet poetic text circles back to the family in the cabin, huddled together, "waiting for her return." Individual color strands woven throughout Alvitre's watercolor and ink illustrations come together to form a striking tapestry encircling the cabin, linking its inhabitants to the pilot. Generous white space and colorful frames focus attention on the connections between the human figures. An afterword summarizes the achievements of Indigenous women in the armed forces and briefly mentions the career of Ola Mildred Rexroat, an Oglala Lakota pilot and member of the WASPs in World War II. VERDICT Accessible to a wide range of young audiences and military families, this picture book is also a unique and specific recognition of the strength and courage of Indigenous women. A first-purchase for any library.--Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In an author's note, Sorell (We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga), who is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, explains that Native women have served in the U.S. Armed Forces "at proportionately higher rates than all other Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard Servicemembers." In this lullaby-like poem, she imagines the Cherokee family of one such woman. The lines join with an incantatory rhythm: "At the mountain's base/ grows a hickory tree. Beneath this sits a cabin./ In that cabin" a grandmother weaves with help from younger women and a small girl. The women, "tending and singing," praise a missing family member: a WWII military pilot flying a combat mission. Alvitre (Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream), who is Tongva/Scots-Gaelic, paints her in her cockpit above the clouds as her thoughts circle back to her family: "Within that pilot/ forms a prayer,/ pleading for peace./ Because at the mountain's base,/ beneath the hickory tree" awaits her beloved family. High above, with flowing hair and outstretched arms, the figure of a larger-than-life entity watches over the family and the pilot. Sorell honors an Oglala Lakota pilot and holds up her courage in this expansive, intimate picture book. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

by Traci Sorell and Weshoyot Alvitre 

* "The meditative text is lovely, and the artwork brings the small Cherokee abode to life with warmth and love." — Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Traci Sorell
Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books, as well as poems for children. Her debut nonfiction picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other books for young readers are At The Mountain's Base, which won an American Indian Youth Literature Award, We Are Still Here: Native American Truths, which received five starred reviews, and Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer. Traci is also an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

Arigon Starr is an actor, musician, playwright, and comic book writer. She grew up on the road as part of a military family. An enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, she also has deep roots in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation thanks to her Mom. She has released four music CDs, written many stage plays, created the comic superhero Super Indian and uses her storytelling talents to highlight contemporary Native America.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2019
BISAC categories
JUV016080 - Juvenile Fiction | Historical | Military & Wars
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV011040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Native American
Library of Congress categories

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