Ziiniyah: Hait'eego - Zinnia: How the Corn

Salina BookshelfSKU: 1893354385

Patricia Hruby Powell, Peter Thomas
Grade Levels:
One, Two, Three, Four, Five
Navajo, Southwest
Book Type:
Salina Bookshelf
Copyright Data:

Sale price$24.95


Ziiniyah: Hait'eego Naadaa Shonaozt'e' - Zinnia: How the Corn Was Saved is the retelling of a Navajo legend published by Salina Bookshelf of Flagstaff, Arizona. This bilingual picture book tells the story of a youth named Red Bird who is sent on a quest to ask for the assistance of Spider Woman when the crops fail. Told in Navajo and English, the story is set in the Southwest long ago. The Navajo women had planted their crops of corns, squash, melons and beans but each time some catastrophe destroyed the plants. Finally the people asked a medicine man who told the people that Changing Woman advises the people that an evil is moving among the fields and that they must seek the help of Spider Woman, the weaver. Only one person is suitable for the quest. A twelve-year-old boy named Red Bird must somehow seek the assistance of Spider Woman but first he must locate her. Confused, the boy sets out on his journey. He does not know what Spider Woman look like or where to find her. First he asks the birds but they tell him to ask the lizard. In trying to find the lizard, the boy stumbles across a web but fails to hear Spider Woman speaking to him. Instead the boy locates the lizard who then tells him to search for the Gila monster. The journey then takes the boy to find the rattlesnake. The wise reptile then tells the boy that he can find Spider Woman at the mouth of a crevice in the east. When Red Bird locates Spider Woman weaving her web, he pleads with her to assist the people. Spider Woman is annoyed that on his previous visit the boy had ignored her and asked the birds for help. The boy apologizes for his foolishness and asks Spider Woman for help on behalf of his people. Spider Woman relents and tells the boy what he must do to help his people find success with their crops. The youth had ignored the yellow flowers that had fallen from the birds, lizard, Gila monster, and snake. She explains to Red Bird that he should carefully take the flowers and plant them in the fields with the corn, beans, squash and melons. The people would have plenty of food if they followed her advice. The boy brings this message to the people and they follow Spider Woman's instructions. Sure enough, the people have plenty of food as a result. From that time, the Navajo have planted the yellow flowers, zinnia, with their crops. They have also respected every spider. The wonderfully coloured illustrations of Kendrick Benally are simple but effective. The stylized images capture the animals and landscape of the Southwest in beautiful turquoise, magenta, purple, greens, oranges and yellow colours. The author explains the importance of the oral narrative in Navajo tradition and details her sources. Navajo translation is provided by linguist Peter Thomas. Zinnia captures the rhythm of Native storytelling that explains Navajo agricultural traditions and stresses how individuals can take responsibility for their community.

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