The Precious Gift: A Navaho Creation Myth

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9780689804809: The Precious Gift: A Navaho Creation Myth

A drop of fresh water must be retrieved in order for First Man to create a stream or lake in his parched homeland, and the members of his village are unable to do so, but, through an unexpected twist of fate, their doomed destiny is changed.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 1-3?The creation myth of the Dineh is extremely complex. Jackson retells a variant of a small portion of it: the bringing of water to the arid Earth. First Man sends out a number of water-searching parties. Beaver and Otter play and forget their task: for this, they are condemned to "...live in the swampy areas of lakes and never know the pleasure of clear, fresh water." Frog and Turtle try their best, but the spring Frog finds is dirty, so First Man tells them they must "...dine on bugs and live where the water is muddy and unclear." Snail, however, finds fresh water. Unbeknownst to her, it leaks out of the flask as she crawls along, and she falls asleep. First Man then takes the last drop, sings a water chant, and creates a river. He rewards Snail with her shell home, and First Woman gives her a silvery, moist trail that serves as a reminder of the value of water. The moral arbitrariness of this outcome may trouble some readers, but the story does convey the message that water is precious. Hubbard's illustrations are colorful and idiosyncratic. Pages dominated by the thirsty tan of dry land alternate with the blue and green of water and sky. Stylized distortions of various sorts?lumpy animals, boneless humans, and fantasy plants?enliven the pages. There is nothing in the design, however, that alludes to Navaho culture.?Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

``When the first people came from the underworld, it is said they came up through a reed in the ocean'' are the words of the strange and beautiful beginning of this strange and beautiful Navaho creation myth. The first people have no water; different animals volunteer to go back to the underworld and fetch some, but all of them fail and all are punished; only the snail succeeds in bringing back one drop of water. From this drop, First Man makes a river. This is truly a new world, and the gouache illustrations live up to all the expectations raised by Jackson (Brown Cow, Green Grass, Yellow Mellow Sun, 1995, etc.) in her fluid, haunting text (for which she provides sources in her author's note). The palette is dominated by the warm orange-yellows of the desert and the cool green-blues of the ocean; what is singular about Hubbard's style is the idiosyncratic shapes into which all the creatures are transformed- -oddly flat and amorphous and then shaded to give the effect of wafer-like thickness. These colorful, swirling compositions and the eloquent text will surely enrapture readers and listeners alike. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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