cover image The Precious Gift: A Navaho Creation Myth

The Precious Gift: A Navaho Creation Myth

Ellen Jackson. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80480-9

This story's relevant ecological theme, plus the crisp retelling and bright, funky expressionist art, may, for some, justify the purchase of yet another creation title. ""When the first people came from the underworld, it is said they came up through a reed in the ocean,"" Jackson (Boris the Boring Boar) begins. However, they have forgotten to bring potable water with them. First Man sends several creatures back to fetch water, but all fail except the lowly snail, who is rewarded with a water flask that remains on his back to this day. The story is clever in its explanation of how other creatures, such as the turtle and frog, acquired their attributes. Best of all, Hubbard's (Four Fur Feet) gouache illustrations, showing a terrain dotted with rainbow-colored foliage and framed by skies with snail-like whorls of clouds, effuse the savory freshness and vitality of a new-born world. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)