K-Gr 4Harrell retells a lesser-known Choctaw legend about two birds who are asked by the Great Sun Father to figure out how to warn the people to take shelter from the upcoming wind and rain. Heloha, who is large and slow moving, and her mate Melatha, who is small, fast, and clumsy, are both just plain silly. As they try to resolve their problem, Heloha persists in laying her large eggs on the clouds, and they roll away, rumbling as they go. Melatha streaks across the sky in an effort to retrieve them. Great Sun Father decides that their noise-and-light show is as good a signal for rain as any, although the birds, unaware of this, continue to try to find a solution. Harrell's humorous narrative rambles at times, especially when describing Melatha's first attempts at warning the people, but overall the tale is well told and reads aloud well. Roth's collages are ideal, combining papers of different textures and using defined, cut shapes against melded torn-paper backgrounds. The endearing, brilliantly colored birds appear on a textured, creamy background, suggesting the clouds that are their new home. An appropriate addition to any collection.Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
Harrell retells a Choctaw legend about two silly birds charged with warning the people whenever The Great Sun Father wishes to send wind and rain to Earth. Through a series of mishaps and misadventures, the two birds, Heloha and Melatha, create thunder and lightning. Indeed, their very names come to mean thunder and lightning to the Choctaw. In her author's note, Harrell states that her story is based on three separate versions told to her by her mother, aunt, and grandfather, all members of the Okla, or Choctaw, people. A written source note documents the authenticity of the tale independent of the oral tradition. Roth's collages are crowded and repetitive, but Harrell's retelling has much to recommend it--humor, action, and compassion.