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To clear the tyrannical Rattlesnake from the main road of her southwestern village, Desert Woman enlists the help of Coyote, Raven, Eagle, and Heron to form an agile and fast-footed new animal that can outwit their nemesis.
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David Diaz is the Caldecott Award–winning illustrator of Smoky Night. His bold, dynamic, and unconventional art style has also earned him awards from Parent’s Choice, American Illustration, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Mr. Diaz lives with his family in Carlsbad, CaliforniaFrom Kirkus Reviews:
Inspired by his interest in traditional creation stories, the highly respected Anaya (Farolitos for Abuelo, 1999, etc.) teams up with Caldecott medalist Diaz (Jump Rope Magic, p. 390, etc.) to present an original story explaining the existence of that most unusual Southwestern bird, the roadrunner. Anaya's prose has the cadences of oral telling, and Diaz's bright images with golden auras are both energetic and folk-like. The story begins with the grandly dazzling Snake, a self-proclaimed "king of the road," who terrifies children and their parents. The Elders of the people go to Desert Woman, creator of all the desert animals, for help in controlling him. Desert Woman gives Snake a rattle (making him Rattlesnake), but that only makes him bolder and more terrifying. Then, with the help of the other animals (gifts of long legs from Deer, sharp eyes from Coyote, etc.), Desert Woman creates Roadrunner, breathing life into him and giving him the gift of dance. Finally, Desert Woman encourages the awkward Roadrunner to practice until he can dance well enough to challenge and defeat Rattlesnake. Disappointingly, the prose is often wordy and uneven, with short simple sentences (" 'Look at me,' Rattlesnake said to the animals,") alternating with the more complex ("However, instead of inhibiting Rattlesnake, the rattle only made him more threatening"). The story bogs down and goes on too long, perhaps because it is really three stories rather than one. Multiple messages about the value of cooperation and respect, the value of individual gifts, and the importance of practice may be too many and too explicit for what seems at heart to be a simple pourquoi tale. (Picture book. 5-9) -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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