cover image Roadrunner's Dance

Roadrunner's Dance

Rudolfo A. Anaya. Hyperion Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0254-8

Caldecott Medalist Diaz's (Smoky Nights) stylized art fittingly amplifies Anaya's (The Farolitos of Christmas) spirited pourquoi story about the first roadrunner and his victory over a tyrannical rattlesnake. Incorporating Southwestern motifs, his paintings dramatically juxtapose electric hues with earth tones and radiate a golden light. His Rattlesnake, the self-proclaimed ""king of the road,"" dazzles with fluorescent patterns on his flesh as he prohibits anyone or anything from traveling past him. Anaya's nimble narrative describes how sage Desert Woman molds clay from the Sacred Mountain and shapes a creature she hopes will be a match for the snake. A handful of animals each give the new creature a gift: Raven plucks long, black feathers from his own tail; Heron offers a long, thin marsh reed to represent the creature's long beak. From these elements, Desert Woman fashions a curious-looking bird she names Roadrunner. Diaz paints each creature's contribution in layers, almost like cut paper, to create a collage-like appearance for the animals' collaborative effort. Though at first clumsy, Roadrunner follows his creator's repeated instructions to ""practice"" until he becomes graceful and can stand up to Rattlesnake, who finally agrees not to frighten travelers on the road. Though the volume is most memorable for Diaz's graphics, Anaya's tale delivers a lively lesson in perseverance. Ages 5-9. (Aug.)