cover image Finding My Dance

Finding My Dance

Ria Thundercloud, illus. by Kalila J. Fuller. Penguin Workshop, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-59-309389-4

“My name is Waka˛ ja haja pj˛j˛wi˛ga, which means ‘Beautiful Thunder Woman.’ I am from the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin and Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico,” which “value an important part of my life: dance” begins Thundercloud’s autobiographical picture book, tracing the protagonist’s experience as a dancer, starting with the gift of an orange jingle dress at age four. At her first powwow, Thundercloud leads her family into the arena, “a circle to symbolize unity, where there is no beginning and no end, just infinite connections to the spirit world and the earth.” Each summer for years, “my older brothers and I would hit the ‘powwow trail,’ ” until joining a dance team leads to a professional career that takes her all over the world. But “no matter how far I went, I would always return.” In a heartfelt, personal-feeling narrative, Thundercloud encapsulates many Indigenous traditions; Fuller’s unlined graphic art employs warm, rich colors that align with the narrator’s heart, determination, and love of dance. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)