cover image NIGHT DANCER: Mythical Piper of the Native American Southwest

NIGHT DANCER: Mythical Piper of the Native American Southwest

Marcia Vaughan, , illus. by Lisa Desimini. . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-35248-2

Introducing the mythical Kokopelli, Vaughan (Kissing Coyotes) takes readers on an exhilarating moonlit dance amid luminescent desert arroyos, canyons and cacti. Here the supernatural songman of Native American legend, whom the author calls "the pied piper of the Rio Grande," leads a parade of desert creatures across spreads bathed in the indigo and purple hues of night. Desimini's (Tulip Sees America) computer-enhanced mixed-media art features ribbons of shimmery, pastel light to represent the music that streams from Kokopelli's flute. As he beckons, captivated desert animals fall in one by one to dance behind him, all of them standing upright as if human. Kokopelli's playful, rhythmic refrain calls Coyote, Snake, Tortoise, Javelina, Jackrabbit, Tarantula and, finally, the children of the pueblo; each verse's second line changes to foreshadow the next animal to join in (e.g., "Come dance, come dance, come dance with me/ Sliding and gliding gleefully./ Like the stars and the wind, happy and free,/ Who'll dance away the night with me?" presages Snake's appearance). Desimini's keen use of color and light effects a dreamlike, movie stills quality. Hot pink cactus flowers and a brilliant full moon add an electric spark to the shadowy nocturnal palette. An author's note explores the importance of Kokopelli among the Hopi, Zuni and Pueblo peoples. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)