Roadrunner's Dance

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Caldecott Medalist Diaz's (Smoky Nights) stylized art fittingly amplifies Anaya's (The Farolitos of Christmas) spirited pourquoi story about the first roadrunner and his victory over a tyrannical rattlesnake. Incorporating Southwestern motifs, his paintings dramatically juxtapose electric hues with earth tones and radiate a golden light. His Rattlesnake, the self-proclaimed "king of the road," dazzles with fluorescent patterns on his flesh as he prohibits anyone or anything from traveling past him. Anaya's nimble narrative describes how sage Desert Woman molds clay from the Sacred Mountain and shapes a creature she hopes will be a match for the snake. A handful of animals each give the new creature a gift: Raven plucks long, black feathers from his own tail; Heron offers a long, thin marsh reed to represent the creature's long beak. From these elements, Desert Woman fashions a curious-looking bird she names Roadrunner. Diaz paints each creature's contribution in layers, almost like cut paper, to create a collage-like appearance for the animals' collaborative effort. Though at first clumsy, Roadrunner follows his creator's repeated instructions to "practice" until he becomes graceful and can stand up to Rattlesnake, who finally agrees not to frighten travelers on the road. Though the volume is most memorable for Diaz's graphics, Anaya's tale delivers a lively lesson in perseverance. Ages 5-9. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Written with a light and humorous touch, this story will garner chuckles from youngsters as it gets across an important message¾every creature has a gift to offer. Snake controls the road. He hisses and frightens the people of the village. After they ask Desert Woman to help, she decides upon a solution. She puts a rattle on the tip of Snake's tail so the people will be warned of his approach. However, the rattle makes the snake even more threatening to the animals. Once again, Desert Woman is asked for help. This time she creates a guardian of the road. She forms the body from clay and the animals each contribute a gift¾and the roadrunner is the result. The strange looking bird is awkward at first, but after a little practice, he is able to dance rings around the rattlesnake. The illustrations are eye-catching and the author includes a note with a bit of information about roadrunners. The note expresses hope that all living creatures will be appreciated and that that all will find and use their abilities wisely. 2000, Hyperion,
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-In this original folkloric tale, Desert Woman creates "a new animal," with input from the existing desert creatures, to stand up to Rattlesnake, the self-styled "king of the road." She gathers clay from the Sacred Mountain and forms the body, allowing each of the others to "bring a gift for our new friend." Deer gives him slender legs to run fast; Eagle gives him strength; Heron, a long beak; Coyote, sharp eyes; and, from Desert Woman herself, comes the gift of dance. This resulting bird is called Roadrunner, and with his assorted traits, he makes a comic and awkward sight, tottering and falling on his face. Desert Woman exhorts him to practice, and "with time, he was swirling and twirling like a twister," and ready to stand his own ground. In the ensuing contest between Roadrunner and Rattlesnake, the bird outmaneuvers his opponent, much to the delight and relief of the animals. Diaz's lush illustrations are highly stylized and done in a rich, showy palette. Rattlesnake is a bright amethyst with jewel-toned decorations while the figure of Desert Woman is appropriately magical. A glowing golden haze outlines all of the figures, and the text is printed on a sandy background. While this title does not claim the authentic provenance of Te Ata's Baby Rattlesnake (Children's Book Press, 1989), it would be a handsome and humorous accompaniment to that title in programs about the American Southwest.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786822096
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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