When the Navajos crops fail yet again, the boy Red Bird is sent to ask Spider Woman for her help. His journey leads him to a flock of sun-yellow birds, a lizard, a Gila monster, and a snake.
To each of the animals, Red Bird asks the same question: Could you tell me where Spider Woman lives?
At last, after traveling in each of the four directions, Red Bird finds Spider Woman sitting in her web. Will she help him?
Red Birds quest to save his people will serve as an inspiration to all readers with responsibilities that sometimes seem impossible to fulfill.
Excerpt of a review from School Library Journal, June 2004:
. The quiet tone and spare plot are true to the style of many Native American tales, and this version is not cluttered with modern additions. Written in both Navajo and English, the text is gorgeously illustrated. The stylized artwork features rich colors and bold shapes with soft outlines. Both the palette and the lines evoke the Southwest. Using varying and unusual point of view, Benally effectively shows the many shapes of the terrain. The author details her sources well, describing how the Navajo hold their stories sacred. A stunning work.
Bilingual: Navajo and English
Zinnia: How the Corn Was Saved was awarded the Land of Enchantment Children's Book for 2006-2007.