|Race to the sun|
Author: Roanhorse, Rebecca
Guided by her Navajo ancestors, seventh-grader Nizhoni Begay discovers she is descended from a holy woman and destined to become a monsterslayer, starting with the evil businessman who kidnapped her father. Includes glossary of Navajo terms.
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Kirkus Reviews (+) (11/15/19)
School Library Journal (-) (12/01/19)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (00/10/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 12/01/2019 Gr 3–7—An ambitious attempt to introduce readers to Diné (Navajo) Holy People, including Changing/Spider Woman, Rock Crystal Boy, Hero Twins, and the Glittering World. . Adventurous seventh grader and New Mexico resident Nizhoni Begay, aka "monster slayer," has a younger brother, Mac, who also is supernaturally gifted, and a best friend named Davey who is Diné and African American. When Nizhoni's dad goes missing and leaves a cryptic note to "Run!," the trio embark on a dangerous rescue mission. This fantasy tale unfolds in a rapid series of short chapters, and the characters are believable. Their adventure is guided by a poem that directs them to collect various objects from Holy People. Each object is needed by Spider Woman to help the recue Nizhoni's father. The villain, Mr. Charles, is an Oklahoma fracking businessman (and secretly a shape-shifting monster) whose goal is to kill Nizhoni and Mac because of their powers. Woven into the story are Navajo words, cultural practices, and some general Indigenous themes. But there are missteps. The characters attend an Indian school and participate in an "ancestors club" to learn about other Indigenous cultures; Native American school curricula generally integrate cultural information into all of their courses. It is also stated that the Navajo elders are not passing down the stories as they once did, and that people are not interested in tradition. While the methods of transferring information from elders to younger generations have changed, the Navajo continue to have interest in passing on and preserving their culture and traditional stories. Sacred deities and practices are portrayed in a manner that runs counter to traditional Navajo tenets. VERDICT Adapting cultural ideas and information is never an easy task, even for someone who lives among the people she is writing about. However, the mistreatment of traditional Navajo practices and shaping of sacred entities into a fantasy narrative cheapens the cultural information presented; children's librarians could pass on this book and they would be doing their readers a service.—Naomi Caldwell, Alabama State University, Montgomery - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/01/2020 Seventh-grader Nizhoni can see monsters—a power, she learns, inherited from her long-lost monster-slayer mother. After her father receives a too-good-to-be-true job offer from Mr. Charles, the head of an evil, pipeline-laying corporation, Nizhoni discovers that Mr. Charle's is a shape-shifting monster in disguise, intent on kidnapping her brother and using his water-bending powers to help with a nefarious fracking scheme. To defeat Mr. Charles, Nizhoni embarks on a quest for weapons, and readers will follow her through Diné (or Navajo) legend, into the Glittering World in search of Spider Woman, across the four sacred mountains, and through the Rainbow Road, to the House of the Sun. Tight prose and fast pacing will carry readers through the exciting quest, though it may be to the detriment of the characters, who are left one-dimensional and whose hurdles are dispatched with little resistance. Still, in the tradition of Rick Riordan Presents, Roanhorse—who herself is of Pueblo, not Navajo, heritage—brings mainstream representation that will provide new windows for many, and long-awaited mirrors for others. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.