cover image The Shepherd Boy

The Shepherd Boy

Kristine L. Franklin. Atheneum Books, $16.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31809-2

A simple prose poem describes how a Navajo boy cares for the family's sheep, taking them daily to a secret spring and then home again, keeping them safe from Coyote. When Ben discovers one evening that a lamb is missing, he goes back to find her wedged between two rocks and carries her back to his hogan without further mishap. Franklin ( The Old, Old Man and the Very Little Boy ) renders Ben's story in a text so low-key as to be lackluster. Apart from a few evocative images--the sun ``slides down the empty sky'' at day's end--her language is unexceptional, and her rhythms are halting and awkward. Kastner's oil paintings are likewise forgettable: in their vagueness they do little to bring the character of Ben or even the landscape to life. And, for all the stated threat from Coyote, the climactic event of the rescue is rendered without drama or tension. A Spanish edition will be released simultaneously: El Nino Pastor , translated by Alma Flor Ada, $14.95 *