Traci Sorell, member of the Cherokee Nation, is one of the most popular authors for the students in Room 23. Her latest book, Pow Wow Day was a HUGE hit! It is different from her other books and the students were able to pick up on the differences quickly. It is so exciting when students fall in love with an author who has such a wide range of writing appeal; there is something for everyone! In addition, her books serve as mentor texts in writer’s workshop for several genres of writing. Sorrel is always paired with a wonderful illustrator and Madelyn Goodnight, member of the Chickasaw Nation, made an impact on the students. They loved the use of color and picked up on the many examples that show a culture that is vibrant and alive today, not as a group of people from historical times. They even spotted the Port-o-Potties, as only children can!
There is so much to notice in the story which led to great questions not just about the main character, River, but about Pow Wows as well. Students were curious about River and why she was ill, they noticed that she overcame her feelings of sadness and replaced them with determination. They wondered about the events held at a Pow Wow and were very interested in the Jingle Dresses. Sorrel includes wonderful information about Pow Wows at the end of the story. Also, I was able to direct them to other picture books like Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Bow Wow Pow Wow by Brenda Child, translated by Gordon Jourdain for more information. Living here on the east coast, we do not have the same opportunity to attend a Pow Wow as others in different parts of the country but many students expressed an interest in attending one. Sorrel’s author’s note indicates that “non-Native people are invited to attend to learn more about contemporary Indigenous cultures.” These were the last words that I read to the children. I hope that they will remember them and act on them if they have the opportunity. Traci Sorell has made such an impact on them that I am sure they will. I know I will.