Published by Penguin Workshop
Summary: The author introduces herself on the first page as Wakaja haja piiwiga, meaning “Beautiful Thunder Woman” from the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin and the Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico. She loved dance from the time she received her first jingle dress and began dancing in the powwow at the age of 4. At 13, she started learning other forms of dance–modern, tap, jazz, ballet–and became a professional dancer after graduating from high school. Sometimes the restraints of classical dance felt wrong to her, though, and she felt like an outsider. She has returned to her roots, dancing the eagle dance with a set of eagle wings and now has a daughter of her own. Remembering how people used to say her name wrong, she corrects those who mispronounce her daughter’s: “Every time someone says our names, they are speaking a language that still exists, and a culture that we still honor, despite many attempts to wipe it out forever.” 40 pages; grades 1-5.
Pros: This beautiful story will resonate with anyone who is trying to find their place in the world. It celebrates both dance and indigenous cultures, with lovely illustrations filled with gorgeous colors that play with light, shadows, and patterns.
Cons: No back matter.
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How do you pronounce Wakaja Haja piiwija?