To create the 2nd Grade play, the teachers adapted Nancy Van Laan's famous illustrated version of the Lenape legend, Rainbow Crow, as a way to further the fall term's cross-disciplinary study of Eastern Woodland tribes native to Long Island. The story celebrates the values of selflessness and service: After a long period of cold weather, the animals of the forest decide to send a messenger to the Great Sky Spirit to ask for relief. The rainbow crow volunteers to complete the treacherous journey, setting an example to all.
To publish her retelling, Van Laan obtained permission from the Lenape tribe's official storyteller.
Music Chair Jessica Chen sent a recording of the performance to Van Laan, who promptly responded with glowing compliments:
What a wonderful staged production of my retelling of Rainbow Crow! I watched it the day after my 80th birthday -- what a perfect present it was for me! This made me realize that the book has been in print for at least 30 years. I hope it will continue to stay in print for many more years so that others can enjoy it and make plays of it as well.
The cast did a fantastic job. So did the director and creator of the songs for the story. I didn't write music to any of the poems in the book so you can do with them whatever you would like to do. I thought the music was great. I liked that you included one of my favorite songs, "The Rainbow Connection". Very appropriate!
I don't have any music for the Aiya! song. Other schools performing it have done it simply to a drum beat and chant. I liked your version, so just use that.
Please let the children know how much I enjoyed their beautiful performance.
Thank you all.
Nancy Van Laan