For authors Jim Kristofic and Nolan James, a book signing at the Page Public Library last Saturday was more of a homecoming rather than the typical book tour stop.
With the recent publication of "Black Sheep, White Crow and Other Windmill Tales" and resounding success of the traditional Navajo Tale, "The Hero Twins" there was no space in the library that wasn’t buzzing with conversation.
Kristofic wrote the books and James illustrated them. The two Page natives were warmly embraced, greeted, and engaged by their many friends and acquaintances in the room.
The author-illustrator duo fostered a relaxed environment within the library. Their collaboration and passions translated into an atypical book signing environment. They played music on a guitar, engaged in discussions and gave illustration demonstrations to those in attendance.
Kristofic's work seeks to spread cultural awareness while also teaching students languages beyond their native tongue. Navajo and English blend in his work, creating a bridge for understanding between two languages--and hopefully cultures. Though popular films like Star Wars and Finding Nemo have been translated into Navajo in recent years, much of the canon of traditional stories has been set aside from translation and hasn't reached a larger audience. Kristofic's work changes that.
He made apparent his devout hope to inspire, but more importantly, to relate to, the youth in the Navajo Nation.
"I try to be honest with the kids about what can happen,” he said. “I don't tell them to dream big; I want to be real with them.”
The author reaches a young audience, sharing Navajo culture through each printed word. For Navajo readers, the books highlight the reader's own cultural history. For other cultural backgrounds, the books serve as a bridge for understanding and education about the collective history of friends and neighbors within the same community.
Kristofic's words pair harmoniously with James's defined, vibrant illustrations. James freely and willingly demonstrated his talent during the event. Each soft stroke of the pencil gracefully demonstrated the mastery and passion behind the hand forging new marks across a blank page. As Kristofic mingled with Page residents, James created a flowing colorscape of a human figures and an artistic landscape inspired by the surrounding stone country of northern Arizona.
When asked whether the two would continue to join forces, James, without hesitation and with a smile, advised that they have hopes to keep on their prosperous path.