Traci Sorell, author
Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction for children featuring contemporary characters and compelling biographies. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.
Read more about Traci.
Madelyn Goodnight, illustrator
Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Her work reflects her love of childhood. She holds a degree from Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Brooklyn. She is the illustrator of The Pear Tree and Look, Grandma!/Ni, Elisi!
Read more about Madelyn.
- Coming soon!
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
In this contemporary story, an Indigenous tradition inspires hope in a young girl. Powwow Day, a traditional Native American ceremony, arrives, but River is still recovering from an unnamed illness and feels too weak to dance. Dressed in her jingle dress and matching moccasins, she longs to join her family and friends in the Grand Entry procession. She hears the drums—“BAM. BAM. BAM. BAM”—and watches the elders enter the circle with flags and feathers. The fancy dancers “twirl and ribbons whirl,” while the “grass dancers sway and weave themselves around the circle,” but River can’t “feel the drum’s heartbeat,” and her “feet stay still.” The emcee calls for the jingle dress dancers to enter the arena. Although River needs the ceremonial healing dance, she can’t do it. Thankfully, River’s friend says she will dance for her. The rows of shiny cones on the dresses make music as the jingle dancers move: “clink, clink, clink.” The girls “dance for the Creator, the ancestors, their families, and everyone’s health.” Watching her sister, cousins, and friend dance, River’s heart begins to open and conviction enters her soul. She finally feels the drumbeat fully, but is it her time to dance? Goodnight’s vibrant, energetic digital illustrations capture the beauty and intricacy of powwow regalia as well as the unique atmosphere of a powwow gathering. Together, the artwork and text sensitively portray and celebrate a powerful ritual that upholds the culture, healing traditions, and creative spirit of Native American communities. No specific tribe is mentioned in the story, though the backmatter mentions the Ponca and Omaha tribes. A heartwarming picture book about the roles of courage, culture, and community in the journey of personal healing.
Publishers 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.
A girl recovering from illness longs to participate in her tribal powwow in this vibrant picture book about acceptance and hope. Delicate feathers and fringe adorn brilliant gold, pink, and turquoise ensembles as River’s friends and family take part in various dances and competitions, but River is still not well enough to don her jingle dress and join them. As she watches, though, she is reminded that the music still lives in her heart, and that she will dance again someday.
ISBN: 978-1-63289-815-9 EPUB
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Page count: 32
9 x 9