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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

The Ghost Dance

by (author) Alice McLerran

illustrated by Paul Morin

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Dec 2018
Native Canadian, General, Anthologies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2018
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 1995
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 9
  • Grade: 1 to 4


The bountiful world of their ancestors was no more the result of white settlers' relentless westward movement in the U.S. A Paiute visionary, Tavibo, and his son each dreamed that if Native peoples danced, the white people would disappear and the ghosts of the wildlife that had been decimated would return.

The ghost dance movement began in the U.S. in the 1800s, in hope as native peoples came together to dance for their shared dream. The dream failed and they tried again. Again the dream failed tragically.

But the vision and the dream still call out to all people, envisioning a future when all Indian peoples would be united, disease would vanish, and the earth would be regenerated and restored.

About the authors

Alice McLerran is a Fitzhenry and Whiteside author.

Alice McLerran's profile page

Paul Morin,
an accomplished painter, sculptor and musician is also the illustrator of a number of children's books. He has also received 25 international awards for his book illustrations. In addition, Paul has won many accolades for his work, including ten awards from the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators, and a nomination for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Mr. Morin now lives near Rockwood, Ontario.

Paul Morin's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"McLerran's elegant, spare text begins by describing the result of white settlers' relentless westward movement in the U.S... In poetic prose, she talks about a Paiute visionary, Tavibo, and his son who each dreamed that if Native peoples danced, the white people would disappear and the ghosts of the wildlife that had been decimated would return... [Attempts at coming together in a sacred, non-violent ceremony ended in violence to the Native Americans, as their actions were interpreted as warlike.] McLerran encourages readers to hold on to the vision of the Dance, and to unite across the boundaries of culture and politics that we have created, to heal the world... Morin's thoughtful assemblages contain many objects that place the book in its historic context. The evocative paintings feature a variety of textures. They glow with the golden colors of the sun-drenched prairie, and exhibit a dramatic use of light. The final illustration, a relief map of the world superimposed on a background of many large fish, reinforces the author's optimistic and hopeful vision of environmental healing. This stunning book will hold great appeal for environmentally conscious readers, and will interest classroom teachers seeking a poetic call-to-action."
School Library Journal

"In somber, repetitive verse, McLerran describes the life of bounty that once belonged to native people, how that was changed by the settlers with their plows and guns, and how the prophet Tavibo had a dream about a Ghost Dance that would bring back the past. . . The mystical illustrations convey these images more effectively than the text; in his first book, Morin combines found objects with highly textured oil paintings, creating an atmosphere that is appropriately dark and unsettled."
Kirkus Reviews

"The Ghost Dance is recounted with sensitivity and respect. McLerran's strongly cadenced, lyrical style and evocative language would make this an excellent read-aloud. Sumptuous paintings by award-winning illustrator Paul Morin complement and enrich the text. In addition to the paintings, Morin makes effective use of assemblage pieces incorporating natural and historical objects such as feathers, wampum beads, bullets, dream catchers, and a medicine pipe.
Highly recommended."
CM Magazine

Other titles by Alice McLerran

Other titles by Paul Morin