Ahyoka and the Talking Leaves
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Ahyoka and the Talking Leaves
Author: Peter and Connie Roop
Major Themes: Alphabet, Cherokee Indians, Native Americans
Synopsis: Sequoya’s daughter works with him to invent an alphabet for their Cherokee Indian people.
How was our alphabet invented? If you had never learned how writing works, how language is written down, how would you go about it? Sequoya, a Cherokee Indian, watched fellow soldiers in the War of 1812 as they communicated with their families through writing. He recognized the value of written communication, and wanted to provide his own people with talking leaves. But how?
Sequoya spent years, and his daughter Ahyoka spent years alongside him, struggling to invent a method of writing that his people would be able to use. Over and over, they worked to draw pictures of all the words their people used, but over and over the pictures were destroyed and they finally came to realize that pictures would not be able to stand for words anyway—there were too many words. What could they do?
In Ahyoka and the Talking Leaves, Peter and Connie Roop have done a masterful job of bringing Sequoya’s struggles to life. Told through Ahyoka’s eyes, the challenge is very real. Lovely black-and-white illustrations help to tell the story, as well. This book contains only six short chapters, each with several pictures, so it is a good early reader.