A young Lenni Lenape girl travels through the seasons, dreaming of great great grandmother's life, planting seeds, picking berries, playing in fallen leaves, and romping in the snow. Told from the viewpoints of Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister, each from her own time, this is a book about tradition and about change.

“My grandparent's grandparents walked beside the same stream where I walk with my brother and we can see what they saw.' Today when a Lenape Indian girl ventures to the stream to fish for shad, she knows that great great grandmother did the same generations before. Through the cycle of the seasons, what is important has remained: being with family, knowing when berries are ripe for picking, listening to stories in a warm home. Then and now are not so very different when the Shadbush blooms.”

The Lenape (Delaware) people traditionally lived in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, upper New York State along the Hudson River, Manhattan Island, and part of Long Island. Later they moved through Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, and into Canada. This full color book based on the cycle of the seasons depicts both the traditional and modern Lenape family life.

picture of prize ribbon


When the Shadbush Blooms is designed to be read and seen by children. It is good for young children, created for those just earning to read, including ESL students. This beautifully illustrated book will give children a sense of history and while life may change, it also remains the same. This book is a good starting point to lead children into a sense of their own history and that of their families and communities, and opens the door to questions about other cultures and other times. In addition, there are Parent/Teacher pages with Lenape words, meanings, and pronunciation guide. Recommended for Pre-K through 6th grade and ESL students.

From the author: “ When the Shadbush Blooms demonstrates how much Lenape children share with children of every other heritage: family relationships, seasonal activities, work and play. At the same time, it shows how similar all of those activities and relationships today are to those experienced by Lenape children centuries ago. My ancestors invented their own calendar based on the local environment. This was a long time ago, and we still use the calendar today. It is but one element that serves to remind Native children of their contributions and instills cultural pride. It's not easy being a Native American, especially a child, as the discrimination is so subtle and pervasive. I hope that showing the continuity of Native culture and its commonality with other cultures will give non-Native children a better understanding of our past and present, and of the humanity we share. I hope, too, that the book will be useful to Lenape children. They are our future leaders and need to be reminded that we are still ”The People“. We have endured; we are still here.

Carla J.S. Messinger, author of When the Shadbush Blooms, is a descendant of the Lenape (Delaware) Indians, and is the Director of Native American Heritage Programs. She is also a presenter for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council‘s Commonwealth Speaker's Bureau. For more information on these programs and how to have one presented in your community, please visit the Lenape Programs Web site.

Reviewers Comments:

“The language is crystalline, pure and sparkling, nothing wasted, nothing more needed. When the Shadbush Blooms is a delightful way to introduce young readers to the lives and ways of American Indians.”
    Karen Cody Cooper, National Museum of the American Indian

“A beautiful volume. When the Shadbush Blooms is one of those rarest of volumes in children‘s literature, a picture book that is not just about American Indians, but is a true sharing and celebration of a vibrant people. It‘s a book that deserves to be in every school and library.”
     Joseph Bruchac, Abenaki storyteller and author

“Over and against the plethora of ’multicultural“ writing for children, this is the one I would choose to show them our pre-conquest lives.”     
    Doris Seale, Cree, Dakota, and Abenaki, poet, editor/author of Through Indian Eyes and A Broken Flute

“While the beautiful illustrations may first attract you to When the Shadbush Blooms, the words that describe the feeling of joy children take in their families now, and took long ago, will hold you and any child. Kids will ask you to read and reread the story. While it describes the Original People, it applies to all people and to the strength of families everywhere. ”
    Susan Gilbert Beck , librarian and teacher

“Teachers will be thrilled with the authority the author brings to the story and the wealth of information contained in a short picture book."”
     Peggy Dilner, University of Delaware

“Informative and useful, a gentle introduction to the fact that Native Americans are an important part of our history – and of our present.”
     Kirkus Reviews

When the Shadbush Blooms is a poem, a song, a prayer for Earth and her inhabitants.”
     Oyate, the organization dedicated to evaluating children’s books about Native Americans


Purchase Shadbush for $44.99, shipping included (United States shipment only) . TO ORDER MULTIPLE COPIES, and for book shipping and handling to overseas friends or outside the United States, please contact the author for quote and/or invoice. Thanks!)

Use your Paypal account or your Visa, Mastercard or other major credit card through Paypal.
Click on the Paypal icon below to begin.

Note: If you wish to have the author autograph your book, please include the dedication name in the Paypal message text. You will receive acknowledgement via email of your purchase, and an estimated shipping time. (Books are shipped Media Mail and take 7-10 days to arrive in the continental United States.)

For more information about the Lenape (Delaware) Indians and information on presentations about them, see the Lenape Programs Web Site.