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Writers Against Racism: JINGLE DANCER by Cynthia Leitich Smith

My 2-year old niece is with me today and she grabbed this book, JINGLE DANCER, by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Morrow Junior Books/Harper Collins, NY 2000) and said, ” Aunty, TEACH ME! TEACH ME!”  And this fall, you’ll want to teach your students how to get their ‘jingle’ dance on from this contemporary Native American children’s story.

“As Moon kissed Sun good night, Jenna shifted her head on Grandma Wolfe’s shoulder. “I want to jingle dance, too.”

Jenna is a young girl who aspires to learn how to jingle dance for an upcoming powwow, after being inspired by her Grandma Wolfe.  But in order to do the dance, Jenna needs to find enough jingles to attach to her dress.

“May I borrow enough jingles to make a row?” Jenna asked, not wanting to takes so many that Elizabeth’s dress would lose its voice. “You may,” Elizabeth answered,…”

All throughout this beautifully illustrated story, Jenna, along with her family and friends, teach readers the customary traditions and native stories from the Muscogee Creek history.

“Once again, Great-aunt Sis told Jenna a Muscogee Creek story about Bat. Although other animals had said he was too small to make a difference, Bat won a ball game by flying high and catching a ball in his teeth.”

This is probably one of the most beautifully illustrated books I’ve ever read.  SUPER KUDOS go out to the couple, Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, for the illustrations in JINGLE DANCER. 

My niece and I were completely immersed in the watercolors in  THE JINGLE.

This is Bowllan’s top pick for your home, or library collection.


  1. Love this book! It’s a beautiful story. Just like your niece, my daughter read the book and wanted to learn to jingle dance. Cheers to Cynthia and you!


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