Ahyoka and the Talking Leaves


The story of Ahyoka, the daughter of the famous Cherokee leader, Sequoyah, who helped her father to create the Cherokee syllabary—the only written language ever invented all at once by a single person. "Well-written....Heartwarming....A satisfying story that should be in most libraries."—School Library Journal.

Ahyoka helps her father Sequoyah in his quest to create a system of writing for his people.

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The story of Ahyoka, the daughter of the famous Cherokee leader, Sequoyah, who helped her father to create the Cherokee syllabary—the only written language ever invented all at once by a single person. "Well-written....Heartwarming....A satisfying story that should be in most libraries."—School Library Journal.

Ahyoka helps her father Sequoyah in his quest to create a system of writing for his people.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
The story tells of Sequoyah, the Cherokee who invented an alphabet for his people in the early 19th century. He had a daughter who helped him, but exactly how she did it is unknown. In this historical novel, the Roops have made up a situation that seems very likely to have happened. The daughter, Ahyoka, is a realistically drawn character based on the authors' extensive research. Second graders who are beginning to understand history and read well enough to cope with a novel in chapters will really enjoy this one.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-- Easy, well-written historical fiction. Ahyoka, daughter of Sequoyah, the man who created a written Cherokee language in the early 1800s, is a woman lost in the tide of history. In the Roops' story, she comes to life. She is portrayed as her father's helper and soul mate in his long-term quest, leaving her mother and home to travel with him after he is ostracized and accused of magic. It is Ahyoka who discovers that letters relate to sounds rather than being representative pictures--the key to creating the syllabic alphabet. The authors provide an epilogue of historical facts discovered in their research and a bibliography of adult sources. Miyake's illustrations are rendered with skill and sensitivity, and adequately convey the action. Full-page paintings reproduced in black and white and shades of gray are effective yet disappointing after the velvety warmth of the full-color cover art. Sequoyah and Ahyoka's success in creating a written language for their people provides a heartwarming conclusion to a satisfying story that should be in most libraries. --Jody McCoy, Casady School, Oklahoma City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688130824
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Edition description: 1ST BEECH
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 520L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Ahyoka's charcoal flew across the sycamore bark.

Would Father understand her picture? Sometimes he knew what her drawings meant. Other times he did not. When she had drawn her best buffalo, he had thought it was a cow.

For two summers and, two winters Ahyoka and her father, Sequoyah, had been drawing pictures for the Tsalagi people's words. The Cherokee had so many words, and she and Sequoyah had to draw a picture, for every one of them. The stack of drawings in the corner reached Ahyoka's chin. Yet she felt as if they had just begun.

There were still so many more words to draw: Gadu, bread. Ahawi, deer. Waya, wolf. And those were the easy words. What would she draw for hard ones, for anger, sorrow, dusk, autumn?

Ahyoka sighed. Even if they drew every Cherokee word, would her people understand them? How could they learn to read all those pictures? Even she had trouble remembering them. And yet, white men had done it. They could read their words on the talking leaves.

Suddenly Ahyoka's mother yanked the picture off her lap.

"You are supposed to be stitching moccasins. But here you are again, making pictures ... talking leaves! What good are they? They don't make moccasins to trade. They don't feed the chickens or plant corn or . . ."

She stared at the fire for a moment, then flung Ahyoka's picture into the flames.

"Mother!" cried Ahyoka. She grabbed the picture and brushed. it off. Soot and charcoal smudged her deerskin dress.

"Once, we had a good farm," Utiya snapped. "Once, your father made the best silver jewelry in the Cherokee Nation. People came from miles away to buy hissilver."

Ahyoka caressed her silver bracelet. Two years earlier, Sequoyah had made it to celebrate her sixth season of life. He had not worked silver since.

"Now no one comes to our door," Utiya continued, "except to ask for payment of our debts. Day and night your father thinks only of talking leaves. And you are becoming just as bad! I need you to make moccasins, not talking leaves. Someday I am going to burn that whole stack!"

Mother was right. Father thought only of talking leaves. He wanted to help his people. He wanted the Tsalagi to read and write. He wanted them to understand the treaties they signed so that the white men could no longer steal their land. Why couldn't Mother understand?

Utiya bundled up the last of the snakeroot that they had gathered the spring before. She shoved it at Ahyoka. Ahyoka dropped her picture to take it.

"We have nothing else left to trade," Utiya said. "Now go find your father. I need four needles from the trader in the village. And tell him to get red thread from your aunt Tsiya so that we can finish these moccasins."

Ahyoka picked up her drawing and started down the trail. Her mother's words chased after her.

"And don't waste time on those useless talking leaves!"

Ahyoka and the Talking Leaves. Copyright © by Connie Roop. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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