An up and coming Native American author was recently honored at a National Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss birthday event in Texas for her book “Son of the Sea Wolf.”
The book, by 15-year-old Daniela K. A. Lee, tells the story of a border collie named Joshua and a girl named Penny who are on a quest to save the ocean from an evil pirate captain.
Daniela, a descendant of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Tarahumara, was chosen as this year’s guest author after the vice principal of Harmony Elementary School in El Paso, Texas overheard students in a second-grade classroom reading Daniela’s book aloud.
Daniela was nominated and chosen from several nominated authors the school had been considering for the event. Having written the book when she was just 14, Daniela, who is home-schooled, was thrilled to be chosen, and happy to see the halls of the school decorated with pictures of scenes from her book drawn by students.
“Every class read my book and they drew pictures about it and put them on the walls at the school,” Daniela told White Mountain Independent. “I just can’t explain how wonderful it all felt.”
It may have been Daniela’s writing style, which is already taking shape for such a young Native American author that convinced the school to choose her. “Penny. It suited her perfectly. She rather looked like a penny, what with her copper-colored hair, tanned skin, and light brown eyes. Not to mention her sand-colored dress,” Daniela writes in her book. In a later chapter, she writes: “Penny felt an odd sort of feeling, like she was taking a deep breath of fresh air. She suddenly knew that she could breathe underwater. Without hesitation, she dove into the waves.”
Daniela told the White Mountain Independent she wrote her first book when she was just 4, but it was just pictures. When her father asked her “Where are the words?” she added a story, and a Native American author was born. Even now, years later, her stories begin with her imagination.
“It’s so easy to picture these things in my head,” she told the White Mountain Independent. Daniela is currently working on the second book in the “Sea Wolf” series, and hopes to to inspire other Native children to follow their dreams. When one of the students in El Paso asked her if you have to be a college graduate to be a real author, Daniela said: “I believe that you can achieve big things before you go to college, there is no age limit to achieving your goals.”
She hopes to become a professional Native American author, penning more adventure books, and to work in journalism or screen writing. She even has hopes of seeing “Son of the Sea Wolf” turned into a movie featuring a Native American girl as Penny.
Daniela may do the writing, but she has help with the completion of her books. Her older sister Brisa Lee, 17, does the cover art and her younger sister, Maria Lee, 14, serves as her editor. “The girls often work together on art projects, like creating stories and writing songs and composing music, as a result of their time together homeschooling,” said mother Claudia Lee in an email to ICMN.
Daniela dedicated “Son of the Sea Wolf,” which can be purchased or downloaded on Amazon, to her father Anthony J. Lee, Chief Judge for the San Manuel Tribe of Mission Indians in California.