Southwest Children's Literature

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The Night the Grandfathers Danced

Book Review:

The Night the Grandfathers Danced is a story of a Native American tribe called the Ute Mountain People. The Ute Mountain People have a tradition that takes place each spring, the Bear Dance. The Bear Dance takes place each year when the earth becomes warm and the hardships of winter begin to fade. In the old days, the dance came when the people moved from the hills and mountains, as though they were bears, leaving their winter dens; thus the name Bear Dance came to be.

A young Ute girl, Autumn, is eager for the dance to arrive, for it will be her first time attending the ceremony. Autumn gets dressed in her new traditional dress and fixes her hair into a beaded barrette. As she walks to the dance, Autumn can smell the food and hear the sounds of the celebration already in progress. After a few hours of having been at the dance, Autumn becomes sad. The whole night Autumn has not been able to find anyone to dance with. That is, until she sees the grandfathers of the tribe sitting alone, having not danced at all. The night becomes one that nobody will forget.

The illustrations created by Katalin Olah Ehling are vivid and bright. The colors are representative of the desert and this Native American culture.

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