Roadrunner's Dance

Publication Type
Publication Year

DISC, 2017: 248.

Rudolfo A. Anaya

In this original folkloric tale, Desert Woman creates "a new animal," with input from the existing desert creatures, to stand up to Rattlesnake, the self-styled "king of the road." She gathers clay from the Sacred Mountain and forms the body, allowing each of the others to "bring a gift for our new friend." Deer gives him slender legs to run fast; Eagle gives him strength; Heron, a long beak; Coyote, sharp eyes; and, from Desert Woman herself, comes the gift of dance. This resulting bird is called Roadrunner, and with his assorted traits, he makes a comic and awkward sight, tottering and falling on his face. Desert Woman exhorts him to practice, and "with time, he was swirling and twirling like a twister," and ready to stand his own ground. In the ensuing contest between Roadrunner and Rattlesnake, the bird outmaneuvers his opponent, much to the delight and relief of the animals. Diaz's lush illustrations are highly stylized and done in a rich, showy palette. Rattlesnake is a bright amethyst with jewel-toned decorations while the figure of Desert Woman is appropriately magical. A glowing golden haze outlines all of the figures, and the text is printed on a sandy background. -- Kate McClelland, School Library Journal


Because Rattlesnake has taken over the road and will not let any of the people or animals in the village use it, Desert Woman enlists the aid of the other animals to create a strange new creature with the necessary tools to overcome Rattlesnake. The bully Snake is defeated when Desert Woman creates Roadrunner, who is able to get the best of Snake through his unique dance. --UNM Library