Wilma's Way Home Book CoverIllustrated by Linda Kukuk.
Little Brown for Young Readers.

Follow Wilma Mankiller’s life from her early displacement from her Cherokee culture through her triumphant return to her roots, culminating in her becoming the first women chief of the Cherokee Nation.


Junior Library Guild. Gold Standard Selection
100 Books to Read and Share, NY Public Library
NCSS, Notable Trade Book
NY Public Library, Best Books of the Year
36 Dazzling Titles, School Library Journal
Best Feminist Children’s Books, Today.com
Best Nonfiction for Kids, Amazon
Academia Norte Americana De La Lengua Espanola, University of Texas-San Antonio, Premio De Literature Infantil Y Juvenil Campoy -Ada, Mencion De Honor



“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.’ School Library Journal

“Employing her familiar pattern of accessible narration punctuated by the subject’s direct quotations, Rappaport emphasizes not only the hurdle of overcoming poverty in a society that devalues Native culture but also twentieth-century intra-Cherokee resistance to women in an elevated leadership role. Artwork is friendly and accessible, with vivid details of settings both natural and human-engineered. Source notes, a list of internet resources, author and illustrator notes, and a brief pronunciation guide are included.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Rappaport has produced a thoroughly researched biography enhanced by Mankiller’s own words, and though it’s heavy with text, readers should find that Choctaw artist Kukuk’s detailed scratchboard and watercolor illustrations provide visual balance. The combined effect gives readers a sense of intimacy. A solid resource for a classroom or school library about a phenomenal Cherokee woman that feels a bit like flipping through a family photo album.” Kirkus Reviews

“Mankiller’s own words, woven throughout the text, makes this book soar. Hearing her voice gives us a sense of the real woman. When Mankiller says, ‘Women can help turn the world right side up,’ her sincerity resonates, and we can’t help nodding at the wisdom of her words. The New York Times

“Moving prose by award-winning author Doreen Rappaport is interwoven with Wilma’s own words in this expertly researched biography from the Big Words series, illustrated with warmth and vivacity by Linda Kukuk.” A Mighty Girl

Study these two images. One is from the Trail of Tears in 1838-1839; the other is from the November 20, 1969 – June 11, 1971 Occupation of Alcatraz.

The illustrator captured these two very different historical events. What mood does she create in each of these images? How did her use of color intensify the historical events? How does the mood affect you as the reader?

Trail of Tears



Learn More

Tune into Linda Kukuk speaking about her artistic journey in doing Wilma.



“A Modern pioneer in the Cherokee Nation


“Wilma Mankiller Reflects on Columbus Day”



Return to Celebrating Women’s History or Return to Big Word Biographies