Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa - Alder & Alouette

Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician and Activist | Inspirational Women

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I remember the day I lost my spirit. So begins the story of Gertrude Simmons, also known as Zitkala-Sa, which means Red Bird. Born in 1876 on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, Zitkala-Sa willingly left her home at age eight to go to a boarding school in Indiana. But she soon found herself caught between two worlds--white and Native American.

At school she missed her mother and her traditional life, but Zitkala-Sa found joy in music classes. My wounded spirit soared like a bird as I practiced the piano and violin, she wrote. Her talent grew, and when she graduated, she became a music teacher, composer, and performer.

Zitkala-Sa found she could also sing to help her people by writing stories and giving speeches. As an adult, she worked as an activist for Native American rights, seeking to build a bridge between cultures.

The coauthors tell Zitkala-Sa's life by weaving together pieces from her own stories. The artist's acrylic illustrations and collages of photos and primary source documents round out the vivid portrait of Zitkala-Sa, a frightened child whose spirit would rise again.


  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award | Honor Book | Children's | 2022


  • Written by Gina Capaldi and Q. L. Pearce and illustrated by Gina Capaldi.
  • Published by Carolrhoda Books, August 6, 2021.
  • Ages 8 to 12 years
  • 0.1" H x 9.5" L x 9.3" W (0.3 lbs) 32 pages
  • Softcover