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Bowwow Powwow

Bowwow Powwow

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Author Brenda J. Child, Illustrations by Jonathan Thunder, Translation by Gordon Jourdain

Minnesota Historical Society Press (May 1, 2018)

The best days of summer end at the powwow, but Windy Girl takes the revelry of the gathering one step farther, into a dreamworld where the dancers and singers are dogs.


Windy Girl is blessed with a vivid imagination. From Uncle she gathers stories of long-ago traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude. Windy can tell such stories herself—about her dog, Itchy Boy, and the way he dances to request a treat and how he wriggles with joy in response to, well, just about everything.

When Uncle and Windy Girl and Itchy Boy attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Now Uncle’s stories inspire other visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers—all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow.

This playful story by Brenda Child is accompanied by a companion retelling in Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain and brought to life by Jonathan Thunder’s vibrant dreamscapes. The result is a powwow tale for the ages.

Also of interest:
Mashkiki Road
Josie Dances
Hungry Johnny
The Forever Sky
Powwow Summer
The Creator's Game

Author information

Brenda Child (Red Lake Ojibwe) is a professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota and author of Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940, Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community, and My Grandfather's Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation, 1900-1940.

Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe) is an award-winning painter and digital media artist living in Duluth, Minnesota.

Gordon Jourdain (Lac La Croix First Nation) teaches at the Misaabekong Ojibwe Language Immersion program for Duluth Public Schools.

Reviews and news

2020 American Indian Youth Literature Award winner for Picture Book

2019 American Library Association Notable Children's Book

2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center Best of the Year Choices

2019 We Are Kid Lit Collective Summer Reading List

American Indians in Children's Literature Best Books of 2018

"Frankly, there's so much I love about this book that I'm not sure where to start!"
—Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature

"Simultaneously fanciful and reverent, this is a joyous look at a crucial tradition."

"A simple, but imaginative story celebrating Ojibwe powwow heritage."
School Library Journal, Starred Review

"A sheer delight"
—The Circle Newspaper

Also featured in:

Indian Country Today, Native America Calling, MN Native News, News From Indian Country, Anishinabek News, Indigeneity Rising (KFAI radio), Minnesota Public Radio, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, ​KUMD/ MN Reads, Mazina'igan, Librarian's Quest, and Book Riot podcast.


Coloring pages

Grass Dancer (PDF)

Jingle Dress Dancer (PDF)

  • 32 pages
  • Fully illustrated in color
  • 10x10 inches
  • Ages 3-7
  • ISBN: 9781681340777

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