cover image The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella Story

The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella Story

Penny Pollock. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-71314-6

In this sobering Native American variation of the Cinderella story, the focus is not on finding true love but on remaining true to one's promises. To repay the kindness of the poor orphan girl who tends them, the tribe's turkeys dress her in a fine doeskin robe so she can attend the Dance of the Sacred Bird. So enthralled is she with the dancing that she breaks her promise to return to the turkeys before dawn and consequently loses her friends forever. Pollock frequently interrupts the narrative with references to Zuni clothing and dwellings-the girl's yucca sandals, her ""turquoise necklaces and earrings of delicate beauty."" In contrast, Young's (Lon Po Po) characteristically abstract illustrations evoke the sunlight and heat of the pueblo villages with few visual clues about the story itself. Except for the heroine's beautiful face, the characters and setting are hazy shadows, often appearing simply as dark silhouettes. The reader never sees the celebrated gown, which is shrouded in a mantle; the dancers at the festival are barely visible smudges seen through the pueblo's doorways. Like the music of story hour radio shows, these illustrations set a mood, forcing the reader to fill in the visual details. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)