Dragonfly's Tale


After a poor harvest, two children regain the Corn Maidens' blessings for their people with the aid of a cornstalk toy, the dragonfly.

After a poor harvest two children regain the Corn Maidens' blessings for their people with the aid of a cornstalk toy, the dragonfly.

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After a poor harvest, two children regain the Corn Maidens' blessings for their people with the aid of a cornstalk toy, the dragonfly.

After a poor harvest two children regain the Corn Maidens' blessings for their people with the aid of a cornstalk toy, the dragonfly.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Based on Zuni tribal lore, this picture book blends creation myth with a timeless (and timely) message about conservation. The village of Hawikuh has been blessed by the Corn Maiden spirits and enjoys perennially bountiful harvests. To show off their wealth the village's head chief and elders plan what amounts to a huge food fight--much to the Corn Maidens' disgust. In retribution the spirits send famine to Hawikuh, which drives away everyone except an abandoned boy and girl. The boy fashions a butterfly-like creature out of a corn husk, and the magical insect comes to life to win the Corn Maidens' favor and return good fortune to the village. ``To this day, in early summer--when the corn is beginning to bloom--the dragonfly appears.'' Rodanas's telling deftly mixes mysticism and moral, imparting a valuable lesson about respect for the environment. Her paintings feature the honeyed hues of corn and clay, often splashed with brilliant red. Zuni pottery and native dress figure prominently in several scenes against a rich background of sweeping New Mexico landscape. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-- An attractive pourquoi tale based on a Zuni legend. The story incorporates the Native Americans' closeness to and respect for nature with an explanation of how the dragonfly came to fly around corn fields. The Ashiwi people flaunt their good fortune and blessings, thereby wasting their plenteous harvest. The Corn Maidens, who nourish the fields, punish them for misusing the treasures of the Earth. The villagers are faced with famine and must leave their homes; only a boy and his sister are left behind. To distract his sister from her hunger, he fashions a toy butterfly from a dry cornstalk. The toy comes to life and flies to the maidens to ask for help. Once again, the Corn Maidens bless the land; when the villagers return, their crops are growing and they no longer take their gifts for granted. The dragonfly, of course, still flies among the corn tassels. Done in appropriate earth tones in realistic detail, the oversized illustrations are often double-page spreads that wrap around the text. The lushly glowing and subtly shaded paintings enliven the simple language and straightforward story line, setting the mood and capturing the drama of the tale. --Yvonne Frey, Peoria Public Schools, IL
From the Publisher
"A fine addition to Native American folklore collections." Kirkus Reviews with Pointers
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780780750333
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristina Rodanas has illustrated several picture books, including The Story of Blue Elk by Gerald Hausman and her own retelling of The Dragonfly's Tale, both for Clarion. She lives in Orleans, Massachusetts.

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