From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8?For hundreds of years, sheep have been so central to Navajo life that the people's word for the animal, bee'iin'aat'e, means "that by which we live." Katie Henio is a traditional woman who speaks only Navajo; she lives on the small Ramah reservation in New Mexico and devotes her time to the care of her sheep and their wool. Told as much in her own words (through her bilingual children and grandchildren) as in the author's, the narrative takes readers along as Henio herds her sheep and describes her work. She makes her own dyes from plants she picks, and is well known for her knowledge of medicinal plants, too. Readers also learn about her demonstration of traditional shearing and weaving at the Festival of American Folklife on the mall at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Full-color photographs of Henio, her sheep, and her family enhance this fine account of a skilled woman from a strong tradition.?Lisa Mitten, University of Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4-6. Readers are introduced to the Navajo culture through this portrait of a fascinating, multitalented great-grandmother. On a small reservation in New Mexico, Henio cares for her flock of 150 sheep with the help of her horse, Dakota, her dog, Ma'ii, and her many children and grandchildren. Both Thomson's text and Conklin's photographs capture the warmth and intelligence of this spirited woman, whom readers see shearing her sheep; weaving, carding, and spinning the wool; and making dyes from plants, flowers, bark, and berries. Henio proudly describes the Navajo customs she holds sacred, one of the most unusual being the practice of burying a newborn's umbilical cord in a place of significance for the child's future, such as "under a loom for a future weaver." Younger and less able readers will appreciate the generous assortment of photographs, some with lengthy captions, which will enable them to glean considerable information easily. Lauren Peterson