cover image The Magic of Spider Woman

The Magic of Spider Woman

Lois Duncan. Scholastic, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-46155-9

Duncan blends several versions of a Navajo myth for this relatively abstract moral tale. When the Fourth World is created, the girl who will be Weaving Woman misses the lessons in leading a balanced life the rest of the People receive. Spider Woman later teaches her how to weave, and warns her not to spend too much time at it. But she becomes obsessed with weaving a beautiful blanket-and her spirit gets trapped in it. Spider Woman herself has to pull a strand of wool loose to free her. To this day, Navajo weavers leave a ""spirit pathway"" in their blankets, ""so the spirit of the weaver will not be imprisoned by its beauty."" As in Begay's Ma'ii and Cousin Horned Toad, the graceful figures of the characters appear on dappled backgrounds, brightly colored against pastoral Western landscapes during happy times, darker and often spooky as Weaving Woman traps herself. Duncan's tale carries a thoughtful message, grounded in well-chosen details and adeptly relayed through her personable storytelling. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)