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The Good Rainbow Road / Rawa 'Kashtyaa'tsi…
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The Good Rainbow Road / Rawa 'Kashtyaa'tsi Hiyaani

by Simon J. Ortiz

Other authors: Michael Lacapa (Illustrator), Victor Montejo (Translator)

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My personal response to the book: The book was okay. It shares information to students about Native Americans.
Curricular connections: The curricular connections for the book is the teaching of Native Americans. An upper elementary level or early middle school librarian could use the book within a Native American unit.
  West_Elementary | Jan 20, 2016 |
In this original story from Acoma Pueblo poet and scholar Simon J. Ortiz, a southwestern village called Haapaahnitse (the "Oak Place") is suffering from a terrible drought. Hungry, feeling hopeless and unhappy, the people take to blaming one another. Then an old woman steps forward to remind them that they haven't yet sought help - help from the Shiwana, the rain and snow spirits who live in the west - and suggests that two young men be sent on a quest. And so it is that two brothers, Tsaiyah-dzehshi ("First One") and Hamahshu-dzehshi ("Next One") are dispatched on the long journey to the Shiwana, crossing blistering deserts and cold mountains. When they confront the fiery chasm of a volcano, the younger brother, Hamahshu-dzehshi, is afraid to continue, until a blind old woman happens along to show him the way...

A trilingual picture-book - the main text, in English and Keres (the language of Ortiz's Acoma Pueblo), is accompanied by Hopi/Tewa/Apache artist Michael Lacapa's illustrations, while a Spanish translation by Mayan author Victor Montejo is included at the rear - The Good Rainbow Road is not a traditional folktale, something Ortiz makes very clear in his afterword, but an original work of fantasy that is grounded in the folk tradition. As such, I think it is what we would call a "fairy-tale," and I have shelved it as such. The story itself is engrossing - readers will be rooting for Tsaiyah-dzehshi and Hamahshu-dzehshi - and the artwork, which looks to be done in colored marker or pencil, and which incorporates many folk motif borders, is colorful and attention-grabbing. I liked the fact that, while the two main questers here are male, women play such a decisive role in moving the action forward, both in suggesting the quest, and (in the form of Spider Woman) aiding the young men. I also liked the fact that the story ends, not with the granting of the young men's request, but with their reaching of their object. It's an interesting conclusion, and will leave readers wanting more. Always a good thing, when it comes to storytelling!

All in all, a wonderful book, one I would recommend to young readers who enjoy adventure stories - although a picture-book, the text is long and extensive, and is probably best suited for upper elementary school students and above - and to anyone looking for texts (although I understand that there is some controversy connected to writing them down) in any of the Keresan languages. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 16, 2013 |
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K-Gr 5–Land, culture, and community join two Native brothers as characters in this story about the well-being and survival of a people. These five characters embody significant roles as the brothers set out on a difficult journey to help their people. Lacapa’s exquisite illustrations set the pace as readers ponder the sacred nature of knowledge and spirituality.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Simon J. Ortizprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lacapa, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Montejo, VictorTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0816523401, Hardcover)

This is the story of two courageous boys and of how they saved their village.

Their village is called Haapaahnitse, Oak Place, and it lies at the foot of a mountain. Once there was a lake and a stream nearby, but they have dried up. Once rain and snow came, but no more. Not only did the crops wither and die, even the hardy oak trees have become brittle sticks. The land has become barren and dry.

Two brothers, Tsaiyah-dzehshi, whose name means First One, and Hamahshu-dzehshi, Next One, are chosen for an important mission. They are sent on a westward trek to the home of the Shiwana, the Rain and Snow Spirits, to ask them to bring the gift of water to the village again. The brothers cross deserts and mountains on an arduous journey until they are finally stopped short by a treacherous canyon filled with molten lava.

The Good Rainbow Road tells how the brothers overcome this last challenge and continue on to their destination. Written in the tradition of Native American oral storytelling and accompanied by colorful illustrations from celebrated Native artist Michael Lacapa, it brings the powers of language, memory, and imagery to a tale that will captivate children ages seven and up.

As Simon Ortiz writes, "The Good Rainbow Road is located in the Native American world, but it is not limited to that world. Even considering humankind's many ethnic and racial differences, we are all part of each other as people and the rest of all Creation, and our stories join us together." This is the foundation of The Good Rainbow Road, and on that road young readers will broaden their understanding of humanity's common bonds.

The Good Rainbow Road is presented in Keres, the language of Acoma Pueblo and six other Pueblo communities in New Mexico, and in English, with an additional Spanish translation in the back of the book. It is published in cooperation with Oyate, a community-based Native organization dedicated to the continuation of traditional literatures and histories.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Two boys are sent by their people to the west to visit the Shiwana, the spirits of rain and snow, and bring back rain to relieve a drought.

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