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This is a difficult book to review because on the one hand it is a moving and poetic account of a little boys (formally named By-Strength-of-Blue Horses) eagerly asking and prompting his grandfather to tell the story of the boys own life, a story that, when it is completed, is marked by a knot on a counting rope. As the story is told, the boys blindness is revealed, which makes more suspenseful the episode of a horse race among this boy and others. That is what makes the counting rope pertinent: when the rope is filled with knots, the boy will be able to his own story by heart. The watercolor paintings by Ted Rand are darkly evocative of families storytelling around a campfire. On the other hand it cannot be considered an authentic portrayal of Indian storytelling. Archambault and Martin wrote several books together, and this the only one with a Native American theme. Archambault is from Pasadena and Martin is from Kansas, from a family with a storytelling tradition, but neither is Indian. There is no authors note to suggest what if anything their research may have been although the publisher at one time claimed that the people pictured in the illustrations were Navajo and Hopi. The People pictured are not specifically identified in the book as part of any nation, and the story needs to be seen just as an emotional encounter between a boy and his grandfather, not between an Indian boy and his Indian grandfather. Viewed in that perspective, the language seems awkward and stilted. According to the review in _Through Indian Eyes: The Native Experience in Books for Children_ by Beverly Slapin and Doris Seale (New Society, 1987), the pictures show representations of many different tribes, with faces like Plains Indians, braids like Mandan, Blackfeet and others, Cheyenne style earrings, and so on. They believe that the grandfathers assertion that the frail newborn would not die was insulting to the spirits, and that the family would name him immediately, not waiting for some spiritual revelation, in this case the mysterious appearance of blue horses. Furthermore, they say that the boys repeated eager interruptions of the grandfather would simply not happen (pp. 182-184). Slapin and Seale write, The romantic imagery of this book is no less a white fantasy than the bloody savages of more overtly racist titles. . . . It is a crass, and deliberate, rip-off--an insult to all of us, and most of all to the people of the Navajo Nation(p. 184).The lack of cultural authenticity in the text and illustrations certainly weaken its value as a multicultural story.

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