cover image Red Bird Danced

Red Bird Danced

Dawn Quigley. Heartdrum, $18.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-0632-2362-2

Employing elegant verse, Ojibwe author Quigley (the Jo Jo series) crafts a story of two Ojibwe kids learning to cope with sorrowful life events. Eleven-year-old Ariel loves to dance ballet; it’s something she has in common with her beloved aunt Bineshiinh. But when Bineshiinh disappears, ballet doesn’t feel the same. Trying to find comfort in movement again, Ariel practices traditional Indigenous jingle dancing and, in delving into its history, learns that Native women are “ten times more likely to/ be murdered.” Meanwhile, Ariel’s 12-year-old neighbor Tomah uses humor to hide the fact that he struggles to read. Despite his academic insecurities, he discovers that he is a gifted storyteller and uses his talent to call attention to the disappearances of women in his Turtle Mountain community. Through Ariel and Tomah’s steadfast resolve, this heartbreaking yet heartening story tackles themes of grief and the strength it takes to grow through adversity. Even as the tweens confront personal challenges, they remain committed to bettering their surroundings in a moving narrative that highlights issues relating to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis while celebrating the healing power of art—including dance, folklore, music, and poetry—and the solace one can find in connecting with one’s heritage. Ages 8–12. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (June)