Review of The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation

The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation
by Alice B. McGinty; illus. by Shonto Begay
Primary, Intermediate    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g
3/21    978-0-525-64500-9    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-525-64501-6    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-525-64502-3    $10.99

In this illuminating story about a contemporary child’s experience with water insecurity, set in the Navajo Nation, Cody wakes up thirsty, and the three big blue water barrels outside his house are all empty. How will his family keep the animals safe on this hot day, or wash the dishes, or refill their water glasses? But his grandmother knows something Cody doesn’t — the Water Lady is on her way. In a parallel narrative, Darlene Arviso is shown getting her own grandchildren ready for school, finishing her morning job as a school bus driver, getting into her yellow water truck, and driving up to Cody’s house, where she is greeted warmly — and where, as one of the ten stops she will make that day, she refills the blue water barrels. The watercolor illustrations by Dineh’ (Navajo) artist Begay use texture and color to highlight the dry desert landscape, and endpapers show the yellows of the dust and the blues of landscape and water mixing together. A brief glossary is included, and an author’s note gives additional information about both Arviso and the Navajo Nation, emphasizing Arviso as an important community figure. A final note by Arviso herself expresses hope that her services will no longer be needed someday and that younger generations will listen to stories of Navajo history and tradition.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Laura Koenig

Laura Koenig is the Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services at the Boston Public Library.

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