“Finding My Dance” by Ria Thundercloud and illustrated by Kalila J. Fuller is part of Penguin Young Books
A news release from Penguin Young Books
Ria Thundercloud from the Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo shares her inspirational story of the power of dance in her picture book debut, Finding My Dance (Penguin Workshop, on sale September 13, 2022).
As a professional Indigenous dancer, choreographer, and cultural ambassador, she maintains the connection between her passions and community through movement. In addition to traveling on tour and performing at powwows, Ria also practices jazz, contemporary, tap, and ballet. Artist Kalila J. Fuller, in her picture book debut, encapsulates the award-winning dancer’s experiences and beautiful regalia with vibrant illustrations that bring Finding My Dance to life.
Thundercloud’s character gracefully glides across the pages of Finding My Dance and throughout various stages of her life with a devotion to dance and Indigenous culture. In her own words, Thundercloud explains the importance of connecting with your heritage, believing in yourself, and appreciating the Indigenous community. See the moment when Thundercloud was first brought into the powwow circle as a jingle dancer and her immersion into traditional dance at the age of four. Join Thundercloud in her exploration of classical dance, her heritage, and nature.
Finding My Dance then goes into her era as a professional dancer traveling the world and eventually becoming a mother, returning to her connection with expressive Native dance and traditions.
According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only 1% of books by US publishers in 2021 were written by an Indigenous author. Thundercloud’s story of Indian country, racism, and growing up, all with a kid-friendly lens, provides a new and inspiring story for Indigenous representation.
Kirkus named it “a moving picture book about the resilience one can find in one’s cultural inheritance.”
With its vibrant illustrations, beautiful regalia, and engaging story about Thundercloud’s journey, Finding My Dance will leave families with an appreciation for Indigenous culture and inspiration to celebrate themselves and their heritage.
Ria Thundercloud is from the Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo. She holds strong ties to her kinship in the Southwest and North, practicing both styles of traditional dance. She started training in classical dance at the age of thirteen, went professional at sixteen, and has traveled internationally as a cultural ambassador and professional dancer. Ria is a 2019 graduate from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Indigenous Liberal Studies and is a holistic yoga teacher from the Healing Lotus Center. Her art is influenced by the women who came before her, reclaiming stories of matriarchs that highlight the resilience and knowledge of Indigenous women.
Kalila J. Fuller was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to draw inspiration from her childhood amongst the fir trees. She graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art with a degree in illustration. She loves dogs, watching cartoons, and drinking chai lattes.