Knots on a Counting Rope

written by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Ted Rand

Seated at a campfire, a young Native American boy begs his grandfather to tell him about the night he was born and other events in his young life.

A knot is tied on a rope of memories every time the boy’s story is told. As he handles the rope the boy is reminded of important events in his life and its message of courage he will need to “cross the dark mountains”. The fact of the boy’s blindness is subtly woven into the narrative making the story even more poignant and powerful.

Conversation flows naturally, assisted by indented text rather than “he said”s.

The horizontal format allows the rich watercolor paintings to flow across a full page and a half. With Rand's masterful use of colors the dark surroundings with yellow firelight reveal the expressive faces of aged grandfather and inquisitive grandson and bright blue skies and vivid earth colors bring alive the pictures of happy memories. Especially compelling are two 2-page spreads with no text; one of the boy riding “like the wind” in the race and the other (my favorite) of Grandfather holding the baby, receiving his name Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses and the blessing of those magnificent animals.