Powwow drums call a modern teen to reconnect with his Native American roots.
Discontented with a move to Dallas, 15-year-old Mark persuades his father and stepmother to let him spend the summer with his Chumash grandmother on a California reservation. Following the lead of a newly met half brother who is a committed powwow dancer, Mark is irresistibly drawn both by the spectacular ceremony at events he attends and also a strong inner calling to become a dancer himself. A broad informational agenda runs through Robinson’s story, as his protagonist eagerly absorbs Chumash history and culture from those around him, along with details of the dancer’s ornate regalia as well as the purpose and spirit of powwows. Ultimately Mark stays with his multicultural extended family (he himself is, as he puts it, “four kinds of brown,” since his father is Filipino-Mexican and his birth mother was Chumash-Crow) to finish high school and to enter the huge Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque—“the Indianapolis 500 of the powwow world” and the book’s climax.
Free of crises and melodrama, a buoyant take on the theme of embracing one’s family heritage. (Fiction. 10-13)