cover image The Magic Weaver of Rugs: A Tale of the Navajo

The Magic Weaver of Rugs: A Tale of the Navajo

Jerrie Oughton, Lisa Desimini, Jerrie Cughten. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-66140-6

In their second collaboration, Oughton and Desimini ( How the Stars Fell into the Sky ) bring to life another tale from the Navajo, this time explaining the origins of weaving and the famous Navajo rug. ``In the beginning,'' hunger and cold are the source of constant worry until two women seek help through prayer. They are answered by Spider Woman, a forceful figure in shimmering emerald who radiates strength. She magically erects an enormous loom, then leaves the women with instructions: ``Hold only beautiful thoughts in your mind while you weave'' and ``weave with your very souls.'' Fearful of trickery, the literal-minded women disobey, but the gift of weaving is theirs anyway. Oughton's fluid prose, studded with images (``white wolf of fear,'' ``sun-blistered desert sand''), has a poetic intensity, mirrored by Desimini's lush if dark illustrations. These gleam with an otherworldiness, evoking an atmosphere of mythical wonder, rippling as if painted on fabric. Her Spider Woman, elfin yet godlike, severe yet generous, is especially well rendered. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)