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Race to the Sun
Cover of Race to the Sun
Race to the Sun
Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he's Mr. Charles, her dad's new boss at...
Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he's Mr. Charles, her dad's new boss at...
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  • Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he's Mr. Charles, her dad's new boss at the oil and gas company, and he's alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he's a threat, but her father won't believe her. When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says "Run!", the siblings and Nizhoni's best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be . . . Timeless themes such as the importance of family and respect for the land resonate in this funny, fast-paced, and exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 15, 2019
    A Diné teen teams up with her younger brother and her best friend to battle monsters threatening their world. After seventh grader Nizhoni Begay senses a monster lurking in the stands during her basketball game, she tells her younger brother, Mac. When the monster kidnaps her father as part of a multilayered plot to lure her brother--the only one who knows her monster-spotting abilities--into servitude, kill her, and destroy the world, Nizhoni seeks help from her biracial best friend, Davery, whose mother is African American, his father, Diné. Aided by Mr. Yazzie, a stuffed horned-toad toy that can talk, and a cast of characters from Diné culture, the three kids embark on an adventurous trek to free Dad and stop the monsters. But even with powers inherited from monster-slaying ancestors, assistance from Holy People, and weapons fashioned from the Sun, Nizhoni will need to believe in herself while sacrificing what's most important if she hopes to succeed. Fans of Hugo and Nebula winner Roanhorse (Ohkay Owingeh) will appreciate her fast-paced prose, page-turning chapter endings, and, most of all, strong female protagonist. By reimagining a traditional story in a contemporary context, populating it with faceted Native characters, and centering it on and around the Navajo Nation, Roanhorse shows that Native stories are active and alive. Native readers will see themselves as necessary heroes while readers of all walks will want to be their accomplices. (glossary of Navajo terms, author's note) (Fantasy. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 4, 2019
    In this fantasy inspired by Navajo legends, two siblings discover they’re the latest incarnations of the famed Hero Twins, just in time to combat a devious monster who plans to unleash his brethren upon the world. In Albuquerque, N.M., 12-year-old Nizhoni Begay can detect monsters disguised as regular people. And no one heeds her warnings, even when one monster—her father’s new boss, Mr. Charles, an oil executive at a company that “people are protesting for putting in that pipeline”—shows interest in her Navajo heritage. After Mr. Charles kidnaps her father, Nizhoni, along with her younger brother Marcus and her best friend Davery, journey across the American Southwest and into a spiritual realm to obtain the weapons needed to defeat Mr. Charles’s army of monsters. But for Nizhoni to follow in her long-vanished mother’s footsteps as a monster slayer, she must survive a grueling series of challenges. Roanhorse (the Sixth World series for adults), who is Ohkay Owingeh and African-American, draws on her husband’s heritage to reimagine Navajo stories and characters, delivering a fast-paced, exciting adventure. While the antagonists could stand further development, Nizhoni’s blend of snark, confidence, and humor proves as multifaceted as the satisfying tale’s focus on friendship, family, and cultural legacy. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary.

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