Southwest Children's Literature

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Kinaaldá: A Navajo Girl Grows Up

Book Review:

This book tells of the Navajo traditional ceremony, Kinaaldá, in which young girls participate as they prepare to enter womanhood. Celinda McKelvey is a young Navajo girl who lives in New Mexico with her family. Celinda and her family travel to her grandmother's hogan on a reservation where they are joined by the Navajo community. Monty Roessel provides crisp photographs documenting Celinda's experiences as she participates in this coming-of-age ceremony. Celinda and her family take us through the steps of the Kinaaldá as the Navajo people experience it nowadays. After the ceremony is complete, Celinda declares that she feels "like a Navajo."

Monty Roessel gives us a clear picture of the tradition behind this custom in a sub-story about the first Kinaaldá, which was performed for Changing Woman. The rituals from this first initiation are the same ones that the young Navajo women follow today. The reader is given an insider's view into the lives of contemporary Navajo people, culture, language, and tradition.


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