Jingle Dancer ‒ Cynthia L. Smith

jingle dancer
image from amazon.com


  • Age Range:4 – 10 years
  • Grade Level:Preschool – 5
  • Lexile Measure:710L
  • Hardcover:32 pages
  • Publisher:HarperCollins; 6th Printing edition (April 5, 2000)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:068816241X
  • ISBN-13:978-0688162412


EXCERPT from harpercollins.ca:

Tink, tink, tink, tink, sang cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe’s dress.

Jenna’s heart beats to the brum, brum, brum, brum of the powwow drum as she daydreams about the clinking song of her grandma’s jingle dancing.

Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problem—how will her dress sing if it has no jingles?

The warm, evocative watercolors of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu complement author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s lyrical text as she tells the affirming story of how a contemporary Native American girl turns to her family and community to help her dance find a voice.


Rationale for Inclusion: This wonderful book tells the story of a Native American girl and her quest to figure out a solution to her obstacle so that she could participate in her cultural tradition of jingle dancing. Seeing as to how there is a massive shortage of children’s books that depict Native American females as protagonists, this book offers a valuable mirror that other Native American children can use to see themselves and their cultural traditions being represented. Likewise, this book can be used as a window for other children to learn more about the Native American culture. One of the fantastic features of this book is that it contains an author’s note at the back that provides information about the Native American culture which children can learn from, such as information about the Muscogee Nation and the Ojibway people, which were the Native American groups that that Jenna, the story’s protagonist, was part of. The author’s note also provides information about jingle dances and has a glossary that explains the meaning of some of the cultural elements used in the book such as powwow, Indian taco, and fry bread. I also like how this book does not stereotypically depict Native Americans as being poor or living on reservations, but rather depicts them in a nice suburban house that is integrated with the rest of society. Last but not least, one of the compelling reasons for why I selected this book is because it has been highly acclaimed by Native American author Debbie Reese, who is an accomplished scholar and literary critic and who Professor Wrenn-Estes has expressed admiration for on more than one occasion.



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