Bowwow Powwow — 21 Comments

  1. The kids really get a kick out of the connection to animals/people/experiences. The native connections to real life with family and celebrating life in this book with the outside connections of culture, the world and the space we live in. Great reference and one to have in your classroom library. I feel kids to go to this book again and again and get something new from it each time. 3 stars of 5.

  2. I enjoyed this book. While I was a bit confused at times, I attributed this to the fact that I am not as familiar with the culture, or the intended audience for this book. I thought the dream sequence with the dogs was a little bizarre, but I enjoyed this childlike portrayal of the events Windy had experienced at Powwows. I think kids can relate to that. To me it showed Windy’s absorption and appreciation of her heritage. I also liked that the book was bilingual and created by Native authors and artists.

  3. This book brought back memories of my grandfather and me going to my first powwow. We are not of Native American descent but my family lived near a reservation and were friends to many tribe members. I remember the sounds and costumes mostly from that first visit. I am always looking for children’s books to best represent this culture. Although I love the illustrations, I was disappointed in the story quality. It felt incomplete. Good book for the shelf but not as a learning tool.

  4. I really wanted to love this book. I found myself wishing that there were more of Uncle’s stories embedded in this story. I felt the story wasn’t as smoothly written as I liked it to be but as someone else mentioned, maybe it was written in Ojibwe and translated to English. I, too, thought the illustrations were a bit off. Like others, I think this would be an important addition to the classroom library so that every student can find themselves in a story.

  5. I had a hard time enjoying this book because I had a hard time following a main theme or idea. I didn’t enjoy the dream sequence or the dressed up dogs – I didn’t understand why there were dogs dressed in traditional cultures, other than she had a pet dog with her. After reading the story I did read about the authors and noticed that they were all native themselves and realized that I probably missed many of the cultural themes and ideas that they were presenting. I appreciate the book for its cultural awareness – even more so knowing that the authors are presenting their own knowledge and experiences. I would include this book in a classroom library and as a read aloud, but would seek out native individuals, or do more research, to present background ideas and explain significance in meaningful ways.

  6. I really love this book. I am probably biased…. I love the Ojibwe language, I grew up in Northern Minnesota, I have had the privilege of attending powwows, and I have worked with many Native kids in Minneapolis. Although I am non-Native, there are many themes and ideas I can appreciate- family, humor, nature, traditions. I understand what campers are saying about the cartoon dogs, but aren’t they present because of the tradition of dancing from door to door saying “We are dogs”? I feel like the illustrations had a very modern look, which is appealing to students.

    I hope that the collaborating team that produced this book creates more in the future!

  7. I had to read this book a few times to figure out if I liked it or not. It is a good cultural story celebrating Ojibwe history,as the author states in the author’s note, so I wanted to like it. I would not include this book during our Native American unit, but would purchase it for the library for students to read on their own. 3 out of 5 stars.

  8. I really appreciate the detailed information about the customs and traditions of a powwow. While I understand that the bowwow powwow dream was a dream, I think that the customs readers learned about the powwow during that dream would have been stronger if the dream was populated by people rather than animals. I worry that the cartoony style of the drawings might distract young readers. I am grateful that the wordless double page spread does show a glimpse of humans as the dancers, but I do wish the dream sequence would have had humans as well…or that the text would have mentioned the idea that she dreamed a bowwow powwow. I noticed that on the back cover it says, “Windy Girl takes the revelry one step farther-into a dreamworld where the dancers and singer are dogs” but I still don’t quite understand how readers were supposed to follow that narrative leap.
    This book, given its authors’ and illustrator’s connection to Minnesota native communities, would easily fit into my second graders’ study of native MN cultures.

  9. One of the things I find most valuable from reading and participation in Camp Read-a-Lot is being exposed to literature about different cultures, written by authors of that particular culture. It is from these types of books that I realize how powerful and important it is to have stories available for others to read that come from the people who have experienced that life firsthand; other stories fade in comparison for me.

    I enjoyed this book, although I really had to give myself the permission to simply enjoy the story being told rather than hunt or look for meaning through literary elements such as symbolism. The end felt a bit forced for me when Windy wakes up having found a clear understanding. I had to pause and contemplate the meaning Windy had found as it didn’t align with the message I had pulled from her dreams.

    This book would be a valuable addition to library collections as it is written by from and written about characters who are a part of American Indian culture. Also, as a bilingual text, it not only becomes more accessible to a variety of readers, but also helps to preserve and keep the language and culture alive. Finally, this book shows American Indians in present day; is shows that American Indians are not just historical figures, but have role in today’s world too.

    Overall rating: 4/5

  10. I liked the first part of the story and how it’s told through the young girl. Using the Ojibwe translation was unique to the book. The explanation of the powwow and the types of dances and costumes were interesting. Several other traditions were mentioned that were new to me. However, the dream sequence at the end bothered me and her visions really took away from the story. I didn’t care for the artwork. The faces seemed distorted and in some instances features were left off or not completed. Colors were dark and sometimes muddy looking. This really took away from the story itself and made it scary.

  11. When I first read the title of this book, I cringed. I saw it as a book that would try to bring a Native American story to the general public but not be sensitive to the Native traditions. After reading it, I saw that all those involved, author, illustrator, and translater, are Native. That, of course, gives more credit to telling a Native story in a sensitive way. It was fun to see Windy’s dream, taking what she had been told by Uncle and blending that into what she had seen at the Powwow. I’m not a huge fan of this book. The illustrations, in my opinion, aren’t the greatest (and “Custer’s Last Popcorn Stand”– yikes!). It is an interesting way to look at a Native event I have no experience with.

  12. I really like how the book has both the English and Ojibwe translations. I like how it shows the Ojibwe as people we would see everyday. They are not portrayed like some movies/books often do. Students get a great look into the importance of the powwow to Native Americans. A great way to compare important ceremonies/traditions other cultures celebrate. I give this book 5/5.

  13. I was really excited about this book as it came highly recommended by Debbie Reese ( It is excellent and does an important thing: shows that American Indians are real and exist and lead lives. This book also teaches and celebrates the song and dance traditions of Ojibwe culture. Many young children and even some adults don’t really understand that American Indians are not “extinct” and some schools are still teaching about American Indians in a way that isn’t accurate or culturally appropriate. So this book was refreshing indeed.
    I would recommend this book for all libraries and classrooms. When I taught second grade, I read the book Jingle Dancer to my class after lunch one day, as a just for fun read-aloud. Later that day when the kids were leaving, one of my students approached me and tearfully said thank you for reading that book. He told me he was was part Ojibwe and had never seen himself in a book before. I had no idea! It was a powerful moment that showed me how important it is to have every kind of book available so every kind of kid could find themselves in a book.
    5/5 stars

    • I forgot to mention that I loved that this book had both English and Ojibwe language. I wish my student had been able to have this book as a 2nd grader.

  14. This multiple award winning book, BOWOWOW POWWOW is a beautifully illustrated book and poetically written. It also is a 2020 Star of the North Picture book nominee! To share this book effectively with my students (and myself!), I will need to build some background knowledge of the culture and the dances beginning with the author’s note at the back. The publisher’s website has more information along with some coloring sheets of the dancers: and this is a very helpful interview with the author called “A tale told in two languages: Drawing inspiration from Red Lake, new children’s book written in Ojibwe and English–

    I would love to share it as an audio book in both Ojibwe and English. Additional magic can be experienced for all our readers then! There is rumor that one is in the works! The theme of generosity is always wonderful to explore with students and I also love the quote, “dance for those unable to dance.”

    There can be a connection to trick or treating with the begging dance; but, I can best connect this book to my 4th grade Native American research project contrasting and comparing our cultures; specifically Indian Boarding Schools. Author Brenda Child also written a book on this topic as well!

  15. This book confused me. It started with a story line of a girl finding a dog and then moved to Pow Wows. I thought it was interesting to discuss the importance of Pow Wow’s and the culture but it got weird with the dogs taking over the dream.

    Rating 2/5 stars

  16. I appreciate the value this book holds in the exploration of Ojibwe culture. The celebration of Powwow Traditions is not familiar to me or to most of the population I teach and this book would provide a respectful and appropriate introduction. The other facet I enjoyed about this book was the opportunity it provides for further exploration. For example, I found the quote “dance for those unable to dance” to be thought provoking and think it would provide opportunity for deep conversation with intermediate readers. I also found the author’s note intriguing, especially the explanation of “The Begging Dance.” I enjoyed the colorful and detailed illustrations as well.

    This book would play an important part in a multi-cultural classroom library. I rate it 5/5 stars.

  17. I thought this book was okay. I was not sure if it was written in English and then translated into Ojibwe or from Ojibwe to English. It seems a bit confusing. I thought there was going to be more of a story line about the dog. I just feel like the story line lacked translation. It was kind of odd the seeing the dog’s dream of being Native American and him celebrating with all their traditions. The way the story jumped from summer to winter and back to summ or fall. It was hard to follow what was going on.
    The illustrations were good, but also confusing.
    I rate this book 2/5 stars

    • I really got lost in this book. Even the pictures were confusing with jumping back and forth in seasons and from the girl to the dream and then to the dog. I had to go back and reread it to finally get the story. I feel it needed to be more powerful. I would give it a 5 out of 10.

    • I think it was the girl’s dream, not the dog’s. The dog is a boy “Itchy Boy” and the text for the dream says, “She dreamed……”