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On the day of the tribal powwow, everything feels different for River—and not in a good way. She’s still recovering from a recent illness, presumably cancer, and trying to regain her energy. She tries to dance Grand Entry and then the intertribal dance, but she “can’t feel the drum’s heartbeat” like she usually does. Worst of all, she can’t participate in the jingle dance. It’s the healing dance, the one she needs the most. Seeing her so downhearted, River’s community steps up. Her friend Dawn offers to dance for her, and as River watches the girls in their beautiful dresses dancing “for the Creator, the ancestors, their families, and everyone’s health” she feels a new confidence. Standing tall, feeling the beat of the drum in her body, she realizes: “I will join them at the next powwow. I will dance again.” This hopeful story is distinctive in its focus: not on the details of the powwow itself but on one girl’s deep desire to be strong enough to dance. Her dual feelings of excitement and disappointment will resonate with young readers. River’s specific tribal affiliation is not named in a story that concludes with information about powwows. Intricate details of Native American regalia are on view in bright, lively digital illustrations. Highly Commended, 2023 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight
CCBC Age Recommendation: Ages 4-8
Age Range: PreK-Early Elementary (Ages 4-7) Grades 3-5 (Ages 8-10)
Format: Picture book
Subjects: Community Dance and Dancers Disappointment Families First/Native Nations Illness and Disease
Diversity subject: Indigenous
Publish Year: 2022
CCBC Location: Picture Book, Sorell
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