cover image Red Bird

Red Bird

Barbara Mitchell. HarperCollins, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10859-5

Although several nonfiction titles have recently explored the modern-day powwow (Dancing Rainbows, Cobblehill; Powwow Summer, Carolrhoda), this fictionalized account is a worthy addition to the shelf. Katie, a city girl, travels with her family to the annual Nanticoke powwow. (The Nanticoke, an Algonquian tribe, live primarily in southern Delaware.) Mitchell (Down Buttermilk Lane) details the powwow's events, focusing on Katie's observations and reactions. She goes with great excitement and a sense of homecoming: ""Down the sandy roadside, the drums call Katie's name: Red Bird... RED BIRD. `Katie' fades away. She is Red Bird, Nanticoke Daughter."" After the powwow, she sheds her beaded, fringed leather dress and returns to the city, but ""the heartbeat of The People stays with her all year long."" The exhilaration of the powwow, tempered by its brevity, makes for a bittersweet afterglow; but Doney's (The Stone Lion) vivid, sun-dappled oils supply a joyful intensity. One spread, of the Nanticoke before the white settlers came, is ""yellowed"" with age--moving and exquisite. Ages 5-up. (May)