Land, culture, and community join two Native brothers as characters in this story about the well-being and survival of a people. These five characters embody significant roles as the brothers set out on a difficult journey to help their people. Lacapa’s exquisite illustrations set the pace as readers ponder the sacred nature of knowledge and spirituality.— Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL)
This is the story of two courageous boys and of how they saved their village.
Their village is called Haapaahnitse, Oak Place, and it lies at the foot of a mountain. Once there was a lake and a stream nearby, but they have dried up. Once rain and snow came, but no more. Not only did the crops wither and die, even the hardy oak trees have become brittle sticks. The land has become barren and dry.
Two brothers, Tsaiyah-dzehshi, whose name means First One, and Hamahshu-dzehshi, Next One, are chosen for an important mission. They are sent on a westward trek to the home of the Shiwana, the Rain and Snow Spirits, to ask them to bring the gift of water to the village again. The brothers cross deserts and mountains on an arduous journey until they are finally stopped short by a treacherous canyon filled with molten lava.
The Good Rainbow Road tells how the brothers overcome this last challenge and continue on to their destination. Written in the tradition of Native American oral storytelling and accompanied by colorful illustrations from celebrated Native artist Michael Lacapa, it brings the powers of language, memory, and imagery to a tale that will captivate children ages seven and up.
As Simon Ortiz writes, "The Good Rainbow Road is located in the Native American world, but it is not limited to that world. Even considering humankind's many ethnic and racial differences, we are all part of each other as people and the rest of all Creation, and our stories join us together." This is the foundation of The Good Rainbow Road, and on that road young readers will broaden their understanding of humanity's common bonds.
The Good Rainbow Road is presented in Keres, the language of Acoma Pueblo and six other Pueblo communities in New Mexico, and in English, with an additional Spanish translation in the back of the book.
"Ortiz’s text, rooted in the rhythms and repetitions of oral storytelling, resonates even when read silently. Lacapa’s pictures bring together strongly modeled figures and flat patterned forms, the immediate and the eternal. Both text and pictures are suggestive of the Native American Southwestbut in a way that conveys energy and passion, not historic preservation." The Horn Book