Eight-year-old River is recovering from illness and can't dance at the powwow this year. Will she ever dance again?
River wants so badly to dance at powwow day as she does every year. In this uplifting and contemporary picture book perfect for beginning readers, follow River's journey from feeling isolated after an illness to learning the healing power of community.
Additional information explains the history and functions of powwows, which are commonplace across the United States and Canada and are open to both Native Americans and non-Native visitors.
Author Traci Sorell is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrator Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
When River first wakes up on tribal powwow day, she feels a surge of excitement before remembering that there will be “no dancing./ No jingle dress competition for me./... I can’t dance like I could before I got sick.” Attending the powwow with family, River, portrayed with light brown skin and short hair in a marigold jingle dress, hopes to dance Grand Entry and the intertribal dance, but is fatigued, unfocused, and “can’t feel the drum’s heartbeat.” Yet, watching from a nearby seat as the dancers connect to “the drum,/ Mother Earth,/ and one another,” and witnessing family and friends participating in the girls’ jingle dance, she realizes: “They dance for/ the Creator,/ the ancestors,/ their families,/ and everyone’s health.../ including mine.” In sensory-focused lines, Sorell (We Are Still Here!), who is Cherokee, creates a resonant, hopeful tale about the healing power of community and tradition, deftly capturing the powwow’s essence. Textural digital illustrations by Goodnight (Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi!), who is Chickasaw, focus on the event’s sights and its participants’ fluid movements, effectively conveying River’s sideline perspective and desire to dance with her community once again. Back matter offers more information about powwows.
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