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FINDING MY DANCE

A moving picture book about the resilience one can find in one’s cultural inheritance.

A renowned Indigenous dancer tells her story.

At 4 years old, author Thundercloud, of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo, received her first jingle dress—an intricate, hand-sewn garment worn by Indigenous dancers. When she performed for the first time at a powwow, her spirit soared. This feeling never left Thundercloud, and as she grew up, she began dancing in the Native “fancy shawl” tradition as well as in contemporary, jazz, tap, ballet, and modern styles. Despite her meteoric rise in numerous dance communities (which eventually led to her becoming an internationally renowned professional dancer), Thundercloud was a “shy” kid who “didn’t fit in.” She was perpetually “the only Indigenous girl in class,” no one pronounced her name—Wakąja haja pįįwįga, or “Beautiful Thunder Woman”—correctly, and the timid girl “never corrected them.” As Thundercloud reached adulthood, she found strength through her ancestral dance and the birth of her daughter. Empowered by her heritage, Thundercloud now corrects those who mispronounce her daughter Yelihwaha•wíhta’s name (“She Brings Good Energy”), lifting up “a language that still exists, and a culture that we still honor, despite many attempts to wipe it out forever.” Accompanied by Fuller’s evocative illustrations that fill pages with bright colors and dynamic figures, Thundercloud’s rousing story of an uncertain child who grows to take pride in her identity will resonate with readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A moving picture book about the resilience one can find in one’s cultural inheritance. (Picture-book autobiography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-09389-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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