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Jingle Dancer [Hardcover]

Cynthia Smith
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 23 2000

Jenna, a contemporary Muscogee (Creek) girl in Oklahoma, wants to honor a family tradition by jingle dancing at the next powwow. But where will she find enough jingles for her dress? An unusual, warm family story, beautifully evoked in Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu's watercolor art.

Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2001, National Council for SS & Child. Book Council

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Smith, a mixed-blood member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, convincingly juxtaposes cherished Native American tradition and contemporary lifestyle in this smooth debut. Watching a videotape of Grandma Wolfe performing a jingle dance, Jenna is determined to dance at an upcoming powwow. But she lacks the cone-shaped, tin jingles that are sewn on to dancers' dresses as part of the regalia. The girl walks down a suburban sidewalk lined with modern houses as she sets out to visit her great-aunt, a neighbor, a cousin and Grandma Wolfe, all of whom lend her jingles for her dress. Smith's language consciously evokes legend. For example, "As Sun caught a glimpse of the Moon" indicates the time of day; and Jenna is careful to borrow only a limited number of jingles, "not wanting to take so many that [another's] dress would lose its voice." Van Wright and Hu's (Jewels) lifelike renderings capture the genuine affection between Jenna and these caring older women. Their easy integration of Native and standard furnishings and clothing gracefully complement Smith's heartening portrait of a harmonious meshing of old and new. Ages 4-10. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3-Without enough tin jingles to make her dress sing, how can Jenna be a jingle dancer just like Grandma Wolfe at the next powwow? She borrows one row from Great-aunt Sis, whose aching legs keep her from dancing; another from Mrs. Scott, who sells fry bread; one from Cousin Elizabeth, whose work keeps her away from the festivities; and a fourth row from Grandma, who helps Jenna sew the jingles to her dress, assemble her regalia, and practice her bounce-steps. When the big day arrives, the girl feels proud to represent these four women and carry on their tradition. Watercolor paintings in bright, warm tones fill each page. In scenes where she is dancing, backgrounds of blurred figures effectively represent both the large audience and the many generations whose tradition the gathering honors. Seeing Jenna as both a modern girl in the suburban homes of her intertribal community and as one of many traditionally costumed participants at the powwow will give some readers a new view of a contemporary Native American way of life. An author's note and glossary tell more about the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Ojibway origins of jingle dancing, and the significance of the number four in Native American tradition. This picture book will not only satisfy a need for materials on Native American customs, but will also be a welcome addition to stories about traditions passed down by the women of a culture.
Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Tink, tink, tink, tink, sang cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe's dress. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Until very recently, there were no large press picture books about contemporary Native children written by Indian authors. For this reason, Jingle Dancer is particularly notable. The story of Jenna, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation living with her family in Oklahoma, is written by a Native author. Rather than focusing exclusively on Jenna's Indian identity, however, the book presents Jenna as an average American kid, living in suburbia, who calls on her Native sensibilities and her broad community of supportive females to overcome a problem as she tries to put together her regalia for the Jingle Dance. Readers who are not familiar with the customs presented here will learn much, but above all, they will learn that Indian children are alive, well, and living rich lives amongst them, a lesson infrequently taught, and rarely so pleasantly. Rich, bright, cheerful watercolor illustrations by husband-and-wife team Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu enhance the presentation and bring Jenna to life. A significantly informative Author's Note and Glossary make the book even more effective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story for all - Oct. 16 2000
What? No teepees or war paint? Bravo! Cynthia Leitich Smith's JINGLE DANCER is a refreshing story about a Muscogee-Ojibway girl wanting to participate in a powwow by performing a traditional dance. This contemporary picture book story is free of the stereotypes sometimes associated with Native American tales, and instead shows Jenna watching her grandma dance on a video tape, visiting a friend in a new duplex in the community, and talking with her lawyer aunt. The reader is also introduced to information about a traditional story, game, foods, and dance. Smith's lyrical narrative and captivating story makes this a perfect read-a-loud -- as my five-year-old daughter will attest to. As an Asian-American, I'm always thrilled to see contemporary stories with multicultural characters shown in real and positive ways.
Beautiful illustrations by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu!
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Watching her own grandmother dance the traditional jingledance,Jenna hopes to carry on the proud tradition.
In order to makeher own dress "sing," however, Jenna will need four rows of jingles. There isn't enough time before the next powwow to mail- order the tin beads, but Jenna doesn't loose faith. A Muskogee Creek story about a bat that she is told by her Great Aunt Sis shows that no one is too little to make a difference.
<i>Rising sunlight reached through a window pane and flashed against... what was it, hanging in Aunt Sis's bedroom? Jingles on a dress too long quiet. "May I borrow enough jingles to make a row? Jenna asked, not wanting to take so many that Aunt Sis's dress would lose its voice. "You may," Aunt Sis answered, rubbing her calves. "My legs don't work so good anymore. Will you dance for me?" "I will," said Jenna with a kiss on Aunt Sis's cheek. Now Jenna's dress needed three more rows.<i/>
With the assistance of those in her community who cannot dance at the powwow, Jenna finds enough spare jingles to make her dress sing. With patience and practice, her hope is fulfilled.
In JINGLE DANCER, Cynthia Leitich Smith honors the tradition of jingle dancing, a ritual of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, which has been celebrated for generations. Jenna is a delightful, ambitious child with great pride---a wonderful heroine for this picture book story. Not only does the author capture the feel of Native American heritage through the exposition and resolution of the story, but she adds to the mood by using the position of the sun in the sky to describe the passing of time within it. The author's note at the end of this picture book provides the fascinating background to this custom.
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By A Customer
Jingle Dancer is a story rich with sensory details and vibrant characters. The most vivivdly drawn character of all is Jenna, whose heart beats "to the brum, brum, brum, brum of the powwow drum" as she daydreams about jingle dancing like her beloved Grandma Wolfe. But to dance, Jenna needs her dress to sing with "four rows of jingles." Young readers will delight in following Jenna on her quest to find jingles for her dress.
Cynthia Leitich Smith's text is graceful and poetic. In Jenna, the author has created an engaging, absolutely believable young heroine who will win over the hearts of those who read her story. The paintings of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu bring Jenna and her family to life in gorgeous, warm-toned colors. Jingle Dancer is an outstanding choice for families and schools alike.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Oct. 19 2010
In part, this book took me back to my own childhood. My father collected Ojibway art and had a number of signed prints by Daphne Odjig. Reading this book reminded me of her prints Pow Wow Dancer, Visiting Grandma and Hoop Dancer. This book is a wonderful story of culture, tradition, love and family. The images conjured up by the lyrical words, and pacing of the story by Cynthia Leitch Smith, are great. The illustrations by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu are warm water colors. The pictures almost sing with the tinks of the jingles. I will enjoy sharing the book with my children again and again as they grow up.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars For Every Jingle Dancer & those who wish to dance.....
My grandaughter danced in her first powwow last year. She is only two and is in love with this book! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Pat Chopik
5.0 out of 5 stars Jingle Dancer
Cynthia Leitich Smith's, JINGLE DANCER, is a delightful book. Ms. Smith weaves a lovely story of the strong female ties in Native Ameicans matriarchal societies. Read more
Published on June 27 2000 by F. Hein
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful story for any child
Cynthia Leitich Smith has penned a graceful, lyrical story in JINGLE DANCER. My son enjoys hearing about Jenna's quest to find jingles for her dress, and loves looking at the... Read more
Published on June 26 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Jingle Dancer
I think the most powerful feature of this wonderful book is how it tells a story about a Native girl and her family's traditions but without resorting to age-old stereotypes. Read more
Published on April 25 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
I have a baby girl who is part Blackfoot Indian through her father. I obtained a copy of Jingle Dancer and shared it with my daughter. I truly enjoyed the book. Read more
Published on April 11 2000 by Caroln L. Nydahl
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Contemporary Native American Picture Book
As a Native woman, I'm always looking for books for the children in my family. There aren't hardly any set today and too many of them are boring. Read more
Published on March 28 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Jingle Dancer
Following in Jenna's footsteps in Jingle Dancer as she visits her relatives and friends to see if she can collect enough jingles for her ceremonial costume is a journey any young... Read more
Published on March 24 2000
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