Monday, November 5, 2012

Rain is not my Indain Name

Smith, Cynthia Leitich. 2001. Rain is not my Indian Name. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-688-17397-5

Depressed since the death of her best friend, Rain struggles to find her footing and happiness again by acting as the photographer for the local paper covering a Native American summer camp. 
The story, told in nonlinear format, delves deep into the rediscovery of self from loss.  With the loss of her best friend Galen, Rain loses herself in grief.  Aunt Georgia's Indian Camp is not something that  Rain wants to do during the summer.  With only a few Native American families in town Rain often feels the burden of being different.  She rediscovers her identity and that of her culture through the lens of a camera and time with others who share her difference.

Smith uses stereotypes within the novel to breach truths.  For example, when Rain things about Indian Camp she says it will probably be "a bunch of probably suburban, probably rich, probably white kids tromped around a woodsy park, calling themselves 'princess,' 'braves,' or 'guides'"(p. 12). 

Journal excerpts scattered throughout the novel bring in an element of personal monologue to a character who is too distraught in her grief to share her feelings.  They allow an insight into who Rain is and who she is letting everyone see. 

2001 Writers of the Year in Children's Prose by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

RAIN was also a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award
Featured at the Second National Book Festival, the Texas Book Festival, the St. Petersburg Times' "You Gotta Read This Book Club," 
Included in GREAT BOOKS FOR GIRLS by Kathleen Odean.

"A wonderful novel of a present-day teen and her 'patch-work tribe." (School Library Journal )

“Rain's observations are appealingly wry, and readers …will find food for thought in this exploration of cultural identity. ” (The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books )

Kirkus Reviews: "Tender, funny, and full of sharp wordplay..."


Students can check out an interview with the author and other items at

Photography plays an important role in the novel.  Have students create a photo collage depicting who they are as a person.

The children of the summer camp build a bridge.  Have students build toothpick bridges and see whose design is sturdier.

Read other literature by author Cynthia Leitich Smith including:
JINGLE DANCER by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000)(ages 4-up).
INDIAN SHOES by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2002)(ages 7-up).
SANTA KNOWS by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Björkman (Dutton, 2006)(ages 4-up).
TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008)(ages 14-up).
ETERNAL by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009, 2010).
HOLLER LOUDLY by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Dutton, 2010).

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