Powwow Day

by Traci Sorell (Author) Madelyn Goodnight (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

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.

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$16.19 $17.99


Starred Review
A heartwarming picture book about the roles of courage, culture, and community in the journey of personal healing.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review

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.

Copyright 2022 Publisher's Weekly LLC Used with Permission

Traci Sorell
Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books, as well as poems for children. Her debut nonfiction picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other books for young readers are At The Mountain's Base, which won an American Indian Youth Literature Award, We Are Still Here: Native American Truths, which received five starred reviews, and Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer. Traci is also an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

Arigon Starr is an actor, musician, playwright, and comic book writer. She grew up on the road as part of a military family. An enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, she also has deep roots in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation thanks to her Mom. She has released four music CDs, written many stage plays, created the comic superhero Super Indian and uses her storytelling talents to highlight contemporary Native America.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication date
February 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV011040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Native American
JUV017080 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Other, Non-Religious
Library of Congress categories
Indians of North America
Rites and ceremonies
Indian dance
Indian girls

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