Children’s Book Review: Powwow Day by Traci Sorell

Posted June 29, 2022 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Children's Books / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Children’s Book Review: Powwow Day by Traci SorellPowwow Day by Traci Sorell
Illustrator: Madelyn Goodnight
Published by Charlesbridge Publishing on February 8, 2022
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / People & Places / United States / Native American, Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Emotions & Feelings
Pages: 32
Format: ARC, Hardcover
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

In this uplifting, contemporary Native American story, River is recovering from illness and can't dance at the powwow this year. Will she ever dance again?

River wants so badly to dance at powwow day as she does every year. In this uplifting and contemporary picture book perfect for beginning readers, follow River's journey from feeling isolated after an illness to learning the healing power of community.

Additional information explains the history and functions of powwows, which are commonplace across the United States and Canada and are open to both Native Americans and non-Native visitors. Author Traci Sorell is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrator Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Book cover of Powwow Day
Purchase on Amazon | Bookshop

Powwow Day by Traci Sorell is a beautiful book about a little girl who is suffering from an illness and is disappointed that she can’t dance at her tribal powwow. Whether you have attended powwows before or have never heard of one, you will love and learn from this book. The Indigenous representation of tribal powwows, family and community is powerful. I would definitely incorporate it into an elementary or homeschool curriculum and I wouldn’t relegate it to just November. It addresses themes of childhood illness, disappointment, family and community support through an Indigenous lens.

Childhood Illness

On the day of the powwow, River wakes up to the reminder that she won’t be able to dance in the jingle dress competition. River, understands that she doesn’t have the energy to participate in the dances. But her family and friends support her as she copes with being on the sidelines. At one point, she thinks that she can participate in the opening dance, but is disappointed again when she doesn’t have the energy to do so. It’s an important point to discuss with children reading the book regarding empathy and how to show a sick friend support.

Family Support

River belongs to a strong family unit. They support and encourage her as she gets ready to attend her first powwow since becoming sick. Her sister is by her side making sure she is okay. Her mother is close by to offer a supportive hand when she feels her energy waning.


This book has beautiful, brightly colored illustrations. The colors of the girls and womens dresses set a gorgeous contrast to the green grass. I love that River is dressed in a brightly dress of orange and yellows. It seems like a decision her family would make to keep her spirits up.

History of the Jingle Dress

I definitely recommend reading the last pages of Powwow Day by Traci Sorell that provide more information about the various aspects of powwow traditions. What I found especially interesting was the history of the jingle dress and it’s connection to the World War I flu pandemic. Dancers perform it in connection with both spiritual and physical healing.

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