What is Heartdrum?

HarperCollins Children’s Books has announced the launch of Heartdrum, a new Native-focused imprint led by award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), and Rosemary Brosnan, Vice President, Editorial Director, Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins Children’s Books. 

Heartdrum will offer a wide range of innovative, unexpected, and heartfelt stories by Native creators, informed and inspired by lived experience, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes.

“HarperCollins is dedicated to publishing books with a wide breadth of representation so that all children see themselves in the books they read,” says Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books. “Drawing on the expertise of Cynthia Leitich Smith, Heartdrum will publish debut and established authors and illustrators across all genres for children and teens that reflect the diversity of Native people.”

The Heartdrum name and logo pay tribute to the connection between the drumbeat and the heartbeat it evokes of the Native community. Logo artist Nasugraq Rainey Hopson (Iñupiaq) says, “The Native American population is beautifully diverse, and I wanted to capture the elements that we had in common and that unite us all: our connection with nature and our path towards balance and unity.”

As part of the imprint’s mission, Heartdrum has already made two donations to the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Native Fund, to be used for writing workshops. “WNDB is excited to partner with Cynthia Leitich Smith and HarperCollins Children’s Books to host a series of workshops designed to support and celebrate Native creatives,” says Ellen Oh, Chief Executive Officer of WNDB.  “Heartdrum is a much-needed addition to children’s publishing.” 

In 2014, We Need Diverse Books began as a simple hashtag on Twitter. The social media campaign soon grew into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a team that spans the globe. WNDB is supported by a network of writers, illustrators, agents, editors, teachers, librarians, and book lovers all united under the same goal – to create a world where every child can see themselves in the pages of a book.

The Sea in Winter

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day is one title on the inaugural Heartdrum list. Aimed at readers ages 8 and older, The Sea in Winter is a tender story about a Makah/Piscataway girl struggling to find her joy again, and the family who will protect her no matter what happens. 

In the story, Maisie Cannon is having a hard time. It’s been months since her knee injury, and her recovery process has been painfully slow. As a serious ballet student, Maisie is eager to rebuild her strength and get back to the dance studio. She knows all her ballerina friends are auditioning for prestigious summer dance programs, while she remains sentenced to physical therapy.

But the injury isn't her only problem. Maisie has been irritable toward her parents and little brother lately and can't always explain why. And as Maisie and her family set out on a midwinter road trip, her secrets and anxieties and dark moods are starting to hurt as much as the aches and pains in her knee.

Christine Day (Upper Skagit), is also the author of I Can Make This Promise, which came out in 2019 and was an American Indian Youth Literature Honor Book. She also wrote the forthcoming She Persisted: Maria Tallchief, an early reader biography in a new series inspired by Chelsea Clinton’s bestselling picture book. Christine lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and can be found online at www.bychristineday.com.

Reviews for The Sea in Winter

“This meditative story about a middle school girl’s courageous journey toward healing follows a family as they navigate the complexities of supporting a tween’s life-changing injury. In her second novel, Day offers a heartening glimpse into the immense patience and love required to endure limitations, build strength, and repair damage. An insightful, stirring read about healing and resilience.”

—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This thoughtful, honest sophomore novel invites readers to reckon with life's messy complexities while reassuring them that every ending brings the seeds of new beginnings."

—Shelf Awareness

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