Books by Kristina Rodanas

ELENA'S STORY by Nancy Shaw
Released: Sept. 1, 2012

"Useful for students learning about life in other countries, and an entertaining story in its own right. (author's note, glossary) (Picture book. 5-9)"
Elena narrates this touching story set in Guatemala, about a girl's longing for education. Read full book review >
LITTLE SWAN by Jonathan London
Released: April 1, 2009

This elegantly simple and informative story chronicles a year in the life of a family of trumpeter swans. From the moment baby trumpeter Ko-hoh and his siblings are born, their parents protect them. Throughout spring, summer and early fall the young swans learn how to feed and fly, in preparation for winter migration. But one icy dawn, a hungry grizzly attacks the sleeping Ko-hoh, who is in serious danger until his parents rescue him with their powerful wings. As ice forms on the lake, the family heads south. The straightforward text explains the trumpeter swan's annual cycle in the friendly context of Ko-hoh's family, while Rodanas's splendid double-page, colored-pencil-over-watercolor-wash illustrations provide a visual backdrop. Tracking Ko-hoh from hatching to full-flight migration, the illustrations allow readers to view the swans from a variety of perspectives, including inside the nest, lake level, subaquatic and aerial, while backgrounds reflect the changing seasons. A successful introduction. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE BLIND HUNTER by Kristina Rodanas
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

Rodanas bases this story of a blind hunter who "sees" better than his sighted companion on a tale from Zimbabwe. When wise Chirobo asks the young hunter Muteye to take him along into the bush, Muteye is skeptical—but it's old Chirobo who detects the dangerous leopard, warthogs, and rhinos in their path first. Nor is Chirobo fooled when, after seeing what their traps have caught, Muteye surreptitiously switches the thin quail in his for the fat duck in Chirobo's. Rodanas places her slender, brightly dressed Shona figures in wide South African landscapes, depicts wildlife in a naturalistic way, and creates a visual climax at the end by closing in on Chirobo's serene, wrinkled visage as he answers Muteye's shamed question about how one earns forgiveness for unkindness: "By learning to see with the heart." Library shelves are well-stocked with tales from West Africa; this one, equally suitable for contemplation or discussion, arises from a different, more southerly, tradition. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 5-9)Read full book review >
YONDER MOUNTAIN by Kay Thorpe Bannon
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Chief Sky, looking for a new leader for his people, sends three young men to the top of the distant mountaintop, to bring him back what they find there. One, who goes part way up the mountain, finds lodes of valuable stones, and brings one back. The second goes a little farther, and returns after he finds forests of healing herbs. The last man brings nothing in his hands—he returns late, torn and bleeding, and tells that from the top of the mountain he could see beyond the valley and to the next mountain, where he saw a smoke signal calling for help. Chief Sky makes this man chief, saying, "We need one who has seen beyond the mountain to other people who are in need." Bannon, who worked with the late Reverend Bushyhead and heard him tell this story in English and Cherokee, retells it here in clear and straightforward prose that reads well aloud. She includes a few words in Cherokee, repeated in a short glossary at the end. Though she says, "The translations have been specially written using the English alphabet so that you can sound them out," there is no pronunciation guide for such words as "Yo:na" or "Uwoha?li." A foreword by Joseph Bruchac sets this in a historical context, pointing out that this teaching story is not among those popularized by James Mooney's classic 1900 translations of Cherokee stories, but is a classic told from generation to generation. Rodanas's (The Little Drummer Boy, 2002, etc.) realistic color pencil and watercolor illustrations in rich autumn colors depict the specific dress and homes of the early Eastern Woodland Cherokee. Though this isn't a title that will jump out at young readers, teachers looking for Native American folktales will appreciate this as a group read-aloud. (Folktale. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 17, 2001

The contemporary Christmas carol comes to life through marvelously detailed illustrations that depict the people and landscapes of the desert. The range of expression in Rodanas's (Follow the Stars, not reviewed, etc.) characters' faces and body language truly makes this special. Atop a camel, brightly tasseled and belled, one of the three kings beckons kindly to the boy, welcoming him to join the journey. Warm reds and yellows dominate the desert scenes, as the travelers follow the star and wind their way toward the manger. The illustrations are filled with textures—from the boy's ragged clothing and the wooden manger filled with hay, to the lamb's soft wool. When it is his turn to present his gift, the boy stands shyly before the baby, "I am a poor boy too." Then, hope springs when he realizes he can give the gift of his playing. Together, the donkey and lamb keep time with the ox, whose foreleg is a blur of motion. With the help of a feathery-winged angel shining in the background, the little drummer boy plays his best, and the baby smiles. As he leaves the manger, still softly playing his drum, his expression shows his pride in sharing his wonderful gift. A beautiful demonstration of the true meaning of Christmas. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1996

Only The Names Remain ($15.95, $3.95 paper; April 1996; 76 pp.; 0-316-08518-9, paper 0-316-08519-7): This history of the Cherokees in Georgia, originally published in 1972 and textually unrevised here, remains elegantly elegiac, bringing both clarity and immediacy to a complicated story. The book concisely covers the period from centuries before the arrival of the first white man in 1540, to the removal of most traces of the Cherokee Nation from Georgia after 1837, through the Trail of Tears, a journey that took one life in four among those who attempted it. This edition is newly embellished by Rodanas's black-and-white drawings, which soberly present Cherokee artifacts in full pages preceding each brief chapter and make this slender work even more accessible and vital to the chapter-book crowd than it was originally. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

The buffalo herd diminishes, and a prairie tribe goes hungry. A young orphan boy cared for by the tribe decides to find the Great Chief in the Sky in hopes that He might restore the buffalo to the grasslands. Guided by the morning wind, the boy travels far and wide. One morning, awakening to thunder, the boy opens his eyes and sees the chief, resplendent in buckskin and eagle feathers. The chief rewards the boy's courage with a gift: the first horse. At first it is just a raw mud figure, but a council of all living things is called, each to give the raw horse something special—the pine tree gives it a tail, hooves come from the turtle, swiftness from the hawk. As the boy returns to his tribe, the one horse slowly turns into a herd, which gives the tribe all the mobility it needs to find the buffalo. A gentle creation story from Blackfoot legend, this tale is particularly well grounded in its magic, and Rodanas's (The Dragonfly's Tale, 1992) illustrations have an appropriately soft and dreamy quality. It's not easy to hit the right note of both substance and etherealness when myth-making, but Rodanas comes comfortably close. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE DRAGONFLY'S TALE by Kristina Rodanas
Released: March 23, 1992

Rodanas (The Story of Wali Dad, 1988) retells an ancient Zuni tale, scrupulously noting her source as an 1884 transcription that she has ``simplified...[adding] some details of my own [in] the way of storytellers.'' The result is a blend of cautionary tale and why story: Celebrating an abundant harvest, the Ashiwi stage a mock battle—literally, a food fight- -that angers the Corn Maidens; they refuse their blessings, and famine follows. Most of the people flee, but two forgotten children fashion a lovely winged creature (the first dragonfly) from a withered cornstalk. It flies to the Corn Maidens, who restore their bounty; the other villagers return, both wiser and kinder. Rodanas's narration is clear and straightforward; her skillfully composed paintings, attractively showcased in the book's large format, are realistic and carefully researched, including many authentic details (such as architecture and pottery designs) and evoking the Southwest in broad sweeps of beautifully observed earth and sky. A fine addition to Native American folklore collections. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
HUCK'S WAY HOME by Kristina Rodanas

"A thoroughly engaging animal tale that delivers a message of self-reliance with visual and narrative warmth."
A lost little calf finds his way home in this picture book based on a true story. Read full book review >