The Butterfly Dance

( 3 )

Overview

With its bright, stylized illustrations and distinctive Native voice, this appealing book gives a vivid sense of stepping into another culture. It chronicles one important day seen through the eyes of a young Hopi girl named Sihumana, or "Flower Maiden," who is a member of the Rabbit Clan and winningly portrayed as a rabbit. After going with her grandfather to greet the sun and bless the day, Sihumana travels with family to another village to take part in the traditional Butterfly Dance, performed late each ...

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Overview

With its bright, stylized illustrations and distinctive Native voice, this appealing book gives a vivid sense of stepping into another culture. It chronicles one important day seen through the eyes of a young Hopi girl named Sihumana, or "Flower Maiden," who is a member of the Rabbit Clan and winningly portrayed as a rabbit. After going with her grandfather to greet the sun and bless the day, Sihumana travels with family to another village to take part in the traditional Butterfly Dance, performed late each summer in order to bring rain to the dry lands of the Southwest. The tale ends happily with the sound of rain on the roof and the promise of butterflies in the days to come.
Created with the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Tales of the People is a series of children's books celebrating Native American culture with illustrations and stories by Indian artists and writers. In addition to the tales themselves, each book also offers four pages filled with information and photographs exploring various aspects of Native culture, including a glossary of words in different Indian languages.

Because she is now twelve, Sihumana gets to join the other Hopi in performing the Butterfly Dance, helping to celebrate family and bring gentle rains for the flowers and plants.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This picture book tells the story of Sihumana, a young Hopi girl who is about to take part in the traditional Butterfly Dance for the first time. This dance, which has both social and spiritual aspects, takes place in late summer, and is performed by young, unmarried women to "make the plants grow and bring the butterflies that come when the clouds give us rain." Written in the first person, we hear about Sihumana's preparations, from her early morning prayer to bless the day with her grandfather, to descriptions of the special cloud-shaped headdress that her mother makes for her. Descriptions of the joyous dance itself include a bilingual Butterfly song. The color illustrations portray Sihumana and her family as anthropomorphic rabbits, because they belong to the rabbit clan. Her best friend and dance parent is portrayed as a bear since she is of the bear clan. This device seems rather confusing since it makes the book seem more like an animal folktale than the realistic story about people that it actually is. Four pages of background information about the Hopi and the Butterfly Dance, illustrated with old photos, are included at the end of the book. The book is part of the "Tales of the People" series that celebrates Native American culture with stories and illustrations by Indian writers and artists. 2001, Smithsonian Institution/Abbeville Press, $14.95. Ages 4 to 10. Reviewer: Gisela Jernigan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789201614
  • Publisher: Abbeville Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2001
  • Series: Tales of the People Series
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 29
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.52 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2008

    I do not recommend this book, very inaccurate.

    I have danced in the Hopi Butterfly Dance, as many Hopi maidens have. This book is very inaccurate and does not portray the true Hopi Butterfly dance experience at the Hopi villages. It is a very chopped-up version of the experience and does not follow the actual events. The author was not raised in the Hopi culture and has tried to relate to his Hopi roots in adulthood. The true experience of this dance can only be told by a Hopi person who has participated in the ceremony. I do not recommend using this book to learn about Hopi. This book is a far-reach to try to understand Hopi culture, but as a fairytale, it could be used as a bedtime story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2001

    Great reading!

    My grand children were studying Indians of the southwest when this book was recommended to me. It gives a good inside look at the hopi butterfly dance. Their teachers are now using the book in there classrooms.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2000

    A Must for all ages!!!

    I really enjoyed reading this book! I thought the story was wonderful and gives great insight to the hopi culture. Illustrations are done quite beautifully, this is definitly a book to keep on your coffee table.

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