Illustrations incorporating images drawn from traditional sand painting and pop culture alike accompany a new Navajo/English version of the early exploits of a pair of mythic heroes.
Kristofic opens with the expressed hope that he’s telling the story “in an accurate and respectful way without exposing too much of its sacredness.” He begins the tale by establishing the oppression of the Emergence People by vaguely described but monstrous naayéé’. Then Changing Woman gives birth to twins who grow up to overcome various challenges on the way to defeating Yé’iitsoh, a metal-clad giant, and earning their names: Monster Slayer (Naayéé’ neizghání) and He Who Cuts Life Out of the Enemy (Na’ídígishí). In James’ vigorous pictures, the Twins, their father, the Sun (Jó’honaa’éí), and their robotlike adversary are usually human figures with the rippling thews and poses of comic-book superheroes—but transformations occur frequently; when placed in the sky, the Sun takes an abstract form, for instance. A thrillingly scary, half-human Spider Woman headlines a cast of other stylized figures. The author doesn’t connect these Twins with others from pre-Columbian New World mythology, but he supplies a prefatory note on the cultural significance of the colors in the pictures. Throughout both the Navajo text and the English translation placed beneath, small marker icons are placed in equivalent spots so that readers can compare words and phrases.
A thrillingly melodramatic tale kept close to its Navajo roots. (Bilingual folk tale. 7-10)