Paiute protagonist Vivian tries to find a way to connect her people’s traditions with the modern world.
No longer a little girl, preteen Vivian questions Grandma’s insistence on gathering pine nuts in the time-consuming traditional way. Basketball try-outs will start in three hours, and she hopes to make the team. Besides, Vivian already knows the story of how Sinawav the coyote punished the Old Ones for their greed by changing them into rocky hoodoos. From science class, she also knows that erosion has formed the stone columns. Grandma understands the science too, but she still insists they gather in the traditional Paiute way. When Vivian practices basketball shots with the pine cones, Grandma turns this lack of respect into a learning opportunity. She leads Vivian to the site of an ancestral village and shows her a pottery sherd, a bone awl, and obsidian chips, and explains how they were used. Through this experience, Vivian gains a deeper understanding of how their Paiute ancestors respected the interdependence of all creatures. Jennings’ carefully crafted text weaves a lyrical story that blends the present with the rich heritage of the Paiute culture. She also includes comprehensive backmatter that offers parents and teachers historical and scientific facts. Saroff’s luminous use of color and her attention to details complement the story, though her photorealistic humans sometimes appear rather stiff.
A story that honors both tradition and its young protagonist’s desire to live in the present. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-9)