An original tale based in folklore about a Native American girl’s willingness to help her people through the power of a mysterious stone.
Set before horses were introduced to the Cheyennes, here is the story of Stands-by-Herself, a girl who lives with her grandmother and “her people on the great plains.” True to her name, she is a solitary child, and the other children constantly tease her, causing her to wish she could “fly away with the ducks.” In an attempt to soothe the girl, her grandmother references the Creator, assuring her that someday she will find the power to do good. Soon she comes across the titular artifact, which will send her down the foreshadowed path soon enough, as her people, come summer, are hungry, undergoing drought and sickness. The author builds an affecting story that centers on his Native American protagonist and her love for her people, though he never names that people within it. The soft, pastel-hued watercolor illustrations evoke the pre-Colonial Plains and its peoples; unusually detailed notes provide further information in the backmatter. In his afterword, Myers contextualizes his position as an outsider, his interest in the story, and its fictional content. Although Myers’ research is evident, his omission of a specific tribe’s and Creator’s names within the story are problematic, as they reinforce a limited and monolithic view of Native Americans.
Well-meaning but flawed. (bibliography) (Picture book. 6-8)