Cover image for Wilma's way home : the life of Wilma Mankiller
Wilma's way home : the life of Wilma Mankiller
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Los Angeles : Disney HYPERION, [2019]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
"A picturebook biography of Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation."--Provided by publisher.
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
Interest age level:
Ages 6-8.


Material Type
Call Number
Children's Book 923.1 Manki
Children's Book 923.1 Manki
Children's Book 923.1 Manki
Children's Book 921 MANKI Mankiller, Wilma

On Order



As a child in Oklahoma, Wilma Mankiller experienced the Cherokee practice of Gadugi, helping each other, even when times were hard for everyone. But in 1956, the federal government uprooted her family and moved them to California, wrenching them from their home, friends, and traditions. Separated from her community and everything she knew, Wilma felt utterly lost until she found refuge in the Indian Center in San Francisco. There, she worked to build and develop the local Native community and championed Native political activists. She took her two children to visit tribal communities in the state, and as she introduced them to the traditions of their heritage, she felt a longing for home.
Returning to Oklahoma with her daughters, Wilma took part in Cherokee government. Despite many obstacles, from resistance to female leadership to a life-threatening accident, Wilma's courageous dedication to serving her people led to her election as the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. As leader and advocate, she reinvigorated her constituency by empowering them to identify and solve community problems.
This beautiful addition to the Big Words series will inspire future leaders to persevere in empathy and thoughtful problem-solving, reaching beyond themselves to help those around them. Moving prose by award-winning author Doreen Rappaport is interwoven with Wilma's own words in this expertly researched biography, illustrated with warmth and vivacity by Linda Kukuk.

Author Notes

Doreen Rappaport' s nonfiction and historical fiction books have been acclaimed for their meticulous research and varied literary styles. She is the recipient of the Washington Post ?Children's Book Guild lifetime achievement award for the writing of nonfiction. Among her many award-winning biographies are Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , illustrated by Bryan Collier, a Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Orbis Pictus Honor Book, and a Jane Addams Children's Book Award winner; and Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln , illustrated by Kadir Nelson, the Library of Virginia's Whitney and Scott Cardozo Award winner, a CCBC Best Book of the Year, and an IRA Teachers' Choice. Doreen lives in upstate New York. Visit her at

A native of rural Oklahoma with Choctaw ancestry, Linda Kukuk specializes in both scratchboard art and watercolor painting. She is a member of the Oklahoma Art Guild and has received numerous awards for her work. Her art has been featured in the International Society of Scratchboard Artists Show, as well as the Festival of Arts in Oklahoma City, the OCCC Arts Festival Oklahoma, the Downtown Edmond Art Festival, the Red Earth Festival, the Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa, the Oklahoma Art Guild National Show, and the Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest Art Show. In addition to art, Linda enjoys travel, photography, gardening, cooking, and competing in 5K races. You can visit her online at

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-5-Rappaport's latest recounts the life of Wilma Mankiller. She grew up "dirt poor" in Oklahoma, and her family survived by following Gadugi, the philosophy of helping one another, trading for the necessities to live. She and her family were uprooted to San Francisco as a result of the Relocation Act. Kukuk's illustrations draw parallels between Mankiller's experiences and those of her Cherokee ancestors, who were forced to walk the Trail of Tears. Feeling alone and disconnected from her Native roots, she found belonging at the Indian Center in San Francisco. Mankiller took part in the occupation of Alcatraz Island, which set her on the path of activism, and eventually returned to Oklahoma, where she learned to help her people by listening first and working together to solve problems. She became the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation, not without resistance. Her legacy lives on through Native people as a strong leader who believed collaboration was the only way to govern. In an author's note, Rappaport discusses meeting with Mankiller's husband and friends; also included are a time line, a pronunciation guide, a bibliography, and source notes. Kukuk's artwork brings Mankiller to life, from her childhood days to her sunset. VERDICT An important read for all libraries, this work highlights a strong woman who left a vital message for future leaders.-Amy Zembroski, Indian Community School, Franklin, WI © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Award-winning and prolific biographer Rappaport turns her attention to the indefatigable Wilma Mankiller. Told in straightforward blank verse with not a frill or fancy phrase in sight, the story begins with Mankiller's family's life in rural Oklahoma, where they were dirt poor, and ends with her leadership as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation via a long and difficult detour. Readers are provided with minimal details about Mankiller's childhood as most of the account is of her life as an activist and community leader. Direct quotes from Mankiller's autobiography are worked seamlessly into the narrative and give it authenticity and weight. Kukuk's realistic watercolor illustrations are notable for the emotions she captures on people's faces. This picture-book biography for older readers is an appetizer that will tempt kids to find out more about Mankiller. The author's and illustrator's notes are good places to start researching, followed by the additional resources listed at the book's end. For a global thematic connection, pair with I Am Farmer (2019), by Baptiste and Miranda Paul.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2019 Booklist