The Great Friendship Of Koyemsi And TuHavi

Something tells me that author/illustrator Joan Mansson and I won't be BFF after this review. 

*The idea behind the story, which Mansson discovered when researching her own Hopi kachina dolls, is a great allegory for one looking to demonstrate the principles of cooperation, teamwork, and, yes, friendship   
*Even though the book was too stretched out for my taste, my son seemed interested in it all the way through (full disclosure: he has not asked us to reopen it, despite a little water-testing by me and it being the only book in our living room all weekend)
*As a fan of the early American West, I was excited to use this as a springboard to discuss Native American life with my kid

*There are a lot of ways the text could have been shortened up, but the easiest would have been to not dedicate so much of the story to having the two main characters rehash the experience from their respective vantage points (especially since a good chunk of many paragraphs repeated portions of what the other counterpart had just said) 
*I am having a tough time understanding why Mansson chose to surround her full-color illustrations with a bunch of black stick figure images -- I'm assuming cost might have been a factor; regardless, it hurts the artistic credibility 
*We are told twice that the fireballs came from the Eastern sky, but never learn of the source of these fireballs (while not a necessity, it might have helped flesh out the action)


I think we can all agree that tribal folklore provides that extra bit of gravitas you don't normally get in typical kidlit fare.  Now, throw in the plight of a blind man and one who cannot walk, and you're cooking with gas!  The concept has all the makings of a winner; but, for the reasons listed above, that winner lost its way in all of the commotion.  [Perhaps a small historical section on the Hopi people and the kachina tradition would have provided a bit of course correction.]  On the bright side, you will walk away with a strong core parable in your pocket, which is more than I can say about a lot of self-published books I have come across over the years...  

Buy / Borrow / DONATE / Destroy

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