The Stone Cutter & The Navajo Maiden
Written by Vee F. Browne
Illustrated by Johnson Yazzie
The Stone Cutter & The Navajo Maiden is a heartwarming children’s picture book written for the second and third grade level reader about a young Navajo girl who sets out to mend the precious family heirloom, the family cutting stone which has broken while grinding corn into flour.The plot takes the third grade reader on a realistic journey to meet a Moccasin Maker, a Potter, and the Stone Cutter as she seeks help in repairing the stone.
The book is beautifully illustrated which serves to enhance the meaning of the text, but what is so unique about this story is this – it also gives the Navajo translation of each paragraph below the English version. How cool is that? Teachers and parents alike will enjoy this introduction into another culture and another language beginning with the word metate- an ancient grinding stone that has been passed down in the family of Cinnibah, the ancient Navajo maiden. As Cinnibah visits with others in her village trying to find someone to fix the stone, she learns the importance of family, a concept that many third grade level readers will comprehend. She also learns that some things cannot be fixed, but must be replaced, as she begins to deal with all she has learned.
This story will lend itself to many meaningful discussions with third grade classroom students about culture, family, and relationships. Symbolism is used within the story and it is interesting to hear what the students feel the words represent. In this age of multi-cultural learning and in classrooms where many cultures and beliefs are brought together The Stone Cutter will surely be a classic for children to be read in the third grade classroom. Woven with traditions, translations, and painting like illustrations, this book will be enjoyed over and over again. A final word from the author at the end of the book establishes the author as an expert and encourages the third grade reader to choose more realist stories like this to understand more about the human heart and the rich cultural history represented in books.