Young, Brian

Healer of the Water Monster

(2) 4-6 Eleven-year-old Nathan convinces his (divorced) parents to let him stay with his grandmother, Nali (a Navajo word used for paternal relationships, e.g. paternal ­grandparents), in New Mexico during the summer so he can work on a science ­experiment. Nali's mobile home does not have indoor plumbing or electricity, and although this means no ­cellphone for two months, it is better than spending time with his dad and Dad's girlfriend. After planting traditional as well as ­store-bought corn seeds for his experiment, Nathan notices that the traditional seeds are missing. One night he finds a horned toad taking his seeds and follows it into the desert. There he finds a sick water monster. At the same time, Uncle Jet has returned home from the Marines and needs healing as well. Nathan is committed to helping them both. To do that, Nathan must travel to the Third World to meet with the Mother Water Monster. Young does a great job of mixing Navajo lore with current concerns. The water monster represents the many bodies of water that are sick from pollution and overuse; many Navajo men and women have returned home from war sick like Uncle Jet. The book explores how healing must come from both modern and traditional ­medicines. A glossary helps readers ­understand the Navajo words and relationships that are ­important to the story.


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