Published by Heartdrum
Summary: Nathan thinks he’s in for a boring summer vacation staying with his Nali (grandmother) on the Navajo reservation. Before long, though, he’s discovered his ability to see Holy Beings, creatures from Navajo lore that only children can see before going through puberty. One of these creatures, Pond, is a water monster who has been poisoned by radiation. Nathan is tasked with traveling to a different world to bring back medicine for his new friend, which will in turn save the reservation from a long drought. Meanwhile, back in the human realm, his uncle Jet is battling his own demons since coming back from military service in Afghanistan. Nali is trying to convince Jet to partake in a ceremony to begin his own healing, but Jet’s drinking and a demon that only Nathan can see make Jet resistant. Both Nathan and his uncle are eventually able to successfully make their journeys, and although neither one turns out quite as anticipated, it’s clear that, in both cases, healing has begun. Includes a Navajo glossary and an author’s note. 368 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Another compelling tale from Native imprint Heartdrum. Nathan, who loves video games, doesn’t like sports much, and has his share of family and friend problems, is a kid many readers will relate to, and cheer for as he becomes the hero of his story. It’s great to have another middle grade book with a contemporary Native setting, and fans of Rick Riordan’s books will enjoy the mix of realism and folklore.
Cons: I was kind of bummed about the outcome of Pond’s story.