I Am Sausal Creek/
Soy el Arroyo Sausal


A bilingual English and Spanish picture book about the history of Oakland told through the voice of a local waterway.

The Book

I Am Sausal Creek/Soy el Arroyo Sausal was published under the Little Nomad children's book imprint of Nomadic Press.

On the first page of the book, the creek introduces herself and invites the reader to sit and listen to her story. As she winds through memories of watching the Ohlone move freely around her shores, the arrival of people in search of gold, streets being paved, and more, she reminds us that through all of this, her water still flows.

The well-researched text is accompanied by vivid, full-color illustrations created by the artist, Robert Trujillo. In the back of the book, there is a two-page supplemental narrative that offers a more in-depth exploration of the history of the Sausal Creek Watershed and the surrounding neighborhoods.

I love this book. There are so many layers. The illustrations are deceptively gorgeous, because they are also a visual narrative about values. The story is surprisingly easygoing, because it is also a people’s history and an environmentalist allegory. And most of all, I Am Sausal Creek is a story about resilience and renewal, which is to say, it is a story about Oakland.
— Innosanto Nagara, Author/Illustrator, A is for Activist and Counting on Community
"Daylighting the Creek"

"Daylighting the Creek"

The Impact

While this book explores the story of a local waterway, many of the themes are universal. As children read about the changes that have taken place over time and the impact different people have had on the landscape and each other, they also see the creek's resilience and understand how integral water is to supporting life.

The goals of this project are to:

  • Teach children about the rich history of Oakland
  • Connect children to urban creeks and local watersheds
  • Offer a culturally relevant teaching tool that honors indigenous voices and reflects diverse experiences
  • Inspire children to engage in their communities and environments

The Inspiration

Students painting the set for our grade level production of "I Am Sausal Creek."

Students painting the set for our grade level production of "I Am Sausal Creek."

I was an elementary school teacher in Oakland for eight years, and spent three of those years in a combination 2nd/3rd grade classroom. The California State Standards for Social Studies for 3rd grade include teaching students about the history of whatever town or city they live in. Though I found some excellent resources for older children and adults, there was a gap in the culturally relevant resources available to explore the richness of Oakland with elementary students. I found myself researching, reading, and then reworking information into kid-friendly pieces. In 2013, I worked with a stellar team of teachers and created a theatrical production where the creek was the narrator and the students studied historical time periods to develop scenes for a play. The children chose characters, wrote dialogue, and created the set. There were several songs and even a dance number! This production inspired me to write the book.

Meet the Illustrator

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Robert Trujillo is a visual artist and father who employs the use of illustration, storytelling, and public art to tell tales. These tales reflect his cultural background, dreams, and personal/political beliefs. Click here to see more of his work.


Thanks to following organizations for their support of this project:

And a big heartfelt thank you to the 145+ people who gave to the crowdfunding campaign that made this book possible!

Abner Morales, Alan Wesson and Yeye Suarez, Alexandra Alquati, Alvina Wong, Amanda Gean, Andrew Aldrich, Andrew Terranova, Angela Fantini, Angela Normand, Ann Waters, Anna Dorman, Anthony Cifra, Athenia Teng, Aurora School, Barbara Goldenberg, Bobby Cupp, Carl Kohnert, Carol Gugino, Carol Kuelper, Carol Lonergan, Cece Carpio, Chloe Johnston, Christine Cordero, Claudia and Harold Fields, Craig Wiesner, David Ewers, Debbie Psarras, Debra Bronstein, Devin Cormia, Dorothy Garrison-Wade, Elanor Dougherty, Eli Isaacs, Elisha Roberts, Elly and Aya Rokeach, Emily Bean, Eri Oura, Erin Raber, Eugene Kang, Forooza Baradar, Friends of Sausal Creek, Gavin Steingo, Gene Anderson, Gretchen Woelfle, Hannah Sweeting, Helen Lazo, Helene Moore, Hiroko Kurihara, Innosanto Nagara, J. Jimenez and Reem Assil, Jack States, Jane Lee, Janice Lazo, Jashvina Devadoss, Jeffrey Harry, Jen Walker, Jen-Mei Wu, Jennifer Biehn, Jeremiah Jeffries, Jill Guerra Burger, Jim Baack, Jim Cartwright, Joel Tena, Aparna Shah, and Coyo, John J. Nieves, Jordan Haar, Josh Healey, Joy Liu, Joyce Kelley, Juan Gabriel Berumen, Juliana Smith, Justine TenZeldam, Katherine Reyes, Kathleen Frederickson, Kathy Shepler, Katina Papson Rigby, Katrina Jones, Kelly Archbold, Ken Thames, K. S. Peters, Laura Allen, Laura Pappas, Laurie Neighbors, Leah Gallegos, Lee Gargagliano, Liam Flynn-Jambeck, Lilian Autler, Lily Huang, Liz Cruger, Matt Takimoto, Maya Christina Gonzalez, Matthew Smith, Zai and Sky, Megan Whelan, Megan Zapanta, Meshawn and Daisy Simmons, Michael Gast, Mollie Cudmore, Monica Luna, Nancy Rosenlund, Nanette McGuinness, Natalie Levine, Nessa Mahmoudi, Nick Williams, Nicole Mendoza, Nora Dye, Pattie Hsu, Rachel Siegel, Randall Homan, Rashida Braggs, Rhonda Kinard and Andrea Graeser, Richard Kauffman, Rishi Awatramani, Robynn Takayama, Roseli Ilano, San Saephan, Sandra Pacheco, Sandra Venning, Sarah Guerra and Rio Yañez, Sarah Colby, Sarazeta Ragazzi, Sarwang Parikh, Sean Delizo, Seema Patel, Shaun Randol, Sherri Berger, Shiow-Jiau Yung, Sudia Paloma Mccaleb, Summer Brenner, Suzanne Drolet, T. Carlis Roberts, Terezia Orosz, Vanessa Sanchez, Victor Chavez and Sita Bhaumik, Vivian Huang, Yael Falicov, and Anonymous Donors.