Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A Native American grandfather tells a blind boy the inspirational story of the child's birth. "A rich tale of intergenerational love and respect... that reverberates long after the book is closed," PW wrote. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A young Native American boy begs his grandfather to tell him about the day he was born and other events in his young life. The poetic language touches the reader as does the story of this blind boy and his courage in overcoming that form of darkness in his life. What could be sad, rather is upbeat and inspirational, as is the love and respect between the boy and his grandfather. A Reading Rainbow Book. Also available in a Big Book edition for classroom and library use. 1967 (orig.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Plan to cry and get chills every time you read Knots on a Counting Rope by Martin and Archambault. This poignant tale tells of an Indian youth who sits by the fire with his aging grandfather. The grandfather tells the boy of his birth and young life, suggesting that this may be the last telling, urging that the boy learn to tell his own story. The boy is undone by the thought of his grandfather's death and asks for a promise against that event, but the man consoles him "I promise you nothing, Boy. / I love you. / That is better than a promise." Hidden in the story is the fact that the boy is blind, making the theme of owning one's own life even more powerful. Illustrations by Rand are as stirring as the words. His clear blue-skied scenes and the tenderness between grandfather and grandson are unforgettable.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4 Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses begs his grandfather to tell him again the story of the night he was born. In a question-and-answer litany, the boy and his grandfather share the telling of the events on that special nightthe wild storm; the frantic ride for the grandmother/midwife; the birth of the frail, sickly boy; and the blessings of the blue horses. Through a staccato dialogue, readers learn how the boy, who was born blind, teaches his horse to run the trails. They enter a race, and although the boy does not win, his grandfather tells him that he has ``raced darkness and won.'' The boy and his grandfather each have such a distinctive voice and cadence that there is no need of imposing qualifiers such as ``he said.'' The story unfolds naturally, exhibiting the love between the boy and his grandfather. The illustrations, executed in strong watercolors, capture the beauty and strength of the southwest. Through form and color, Rand creates enduring mountains, fluffy clouds floating in a brilliant blue sky, and the gritty textures of the earth. The people exhibit character, individuality, and pride. And the loving bond eloquently expressed in the text is also reflected in the profiles of the two seated figures surrounded by the glow of the campfire. Parents and grandparents should share this book, and then their own stories, with children. Karen K. Radtke, Milwaukee Public Library