Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyA simple prose poem describes how a Navajo boy cares for the family's sheep, taking them daily to a secret spring and then home again, keeping them safe from Coyote. When Ben discovers one evening that a lamb is missing, he goes back to find her wedged between two rocks and carries her back to his hogan without further mishap. Franklin ( The Old, Old Man and the Very Little Boy ) renders Ben's story in a text so low-key as to be lackluster. Apart from a few evocative images--the sun ``slides down the empty sky'' at day's end--her language is unexceptional, and her rhythms are halting and awkward. Kastner's oil paintings are likewise forgettable: in their vagueness they do little to bring the character of Ben or even the landscape to life. And, for all the stated threat from Coyote, the climactic event of the rescue is rendered without drama or tension. A Spanish edition will be released simultaneously: El Nino Pastor , translated by Alma Flor Ada, $14.95 * |ISBN 0-689-31918-5 . Ages 3-6. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn CourtotBen is a young Navajo boy who tends his family's sheep. A story portrayed in a picture book that blends current Native American life-styles with traditions of the old. Ben has a strong sense of responsibility and his decisions affect his family's survival. Also available in Spanish.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalPreS-Gr 2-In summertime, when school is out and his parents are busy at the loom and in the garden, it's Ben's job to take care of their sheep. The young Navaho boy and his two dogs take the herd through canyons and across a mesa to ``a secret spring: the place where green grass grows.'' One evening, when a lamb is missing, they search for her and bring her safely home. This quiet story of a young child's responsibility is told in a few well-chosen words. Ben's ethnicity is not pointed out, but his life style, including the Navaho words he counts with, is shared with readers. Equally allusive are the impressionistic paintings, which capture the rugged grandeur of the Southwest canyon country. The shifting moods of shadow and sunlight; canyon and mesa; and cool morning, hot noon, and velvet night are all skillfully brought to life. So, too, are the ruins of an ancient village and the rock paintings nearby. Some young listeners may have to stretch to make connections that are only implied in art and text, but this little jewel of a book provides a unique aesthetic experience that is as true to its culture and place as it is to the universal satisfaction of a job well done.-Carolyn Polese, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Ilene CooperIn this simple story, a young Navajo boy, Ben, helps his family when school is out by watching the sheep. Ben counts the sheep the way he has been taught by his grandfather. There should be 50, but one evening there are only 49. Ben and his two dogs search the mesa, finally finding the little ewe just before nightfall and bringing her home. There's a purity to this that young children will appreciate; they will also like the artwork, which is painted on a textured canvas that gives dimension to pictures, especially the landscape of the Southwest.
- Atheneum Books for Young Readers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 10.77(w) x 8.29(h) x 0.37(d)
- Age Range:
- 5 - 6 Years
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