Race to the Sun

Race to the Sun
Age Range
8+
Release Date
January 14, 2020
ISBN
978-1368024662
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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.

Editor review

1 review
Navajo Hero Quest
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Nizhoni Begay struggles a bit. She manages to embarrass herself on the basketball court, watches out for her younger brother Mac because her mother left several years previously, and has to deal with her father's long work hours. When he is approached by Mr. Charles, who wants him to relocate the family to Tulsa, Nizhoni is concerned about moving but also because Mr. Charles is a monster! A statue of a toad, Mr. Yazzie, that she has in her room comes to life and reinforces this information, and is very helpful. Her father doesn't believe that Mr. Charles wants to kill her because she can see monsters, so when she and her brother are called to the office at school, Nizhoni decides to run away, getting help from her best friend Davery (who helpfully has a credit card!). Mr. Yazzie sends them off to try to find Spider woman, who can help get their father back from Mr. Charles. In order to request a map from her, there is a quest to get four jewels from the Four Sacred Mountains, as described in a song that a Diné Holy Person has given them. When they finally meet the Spider Woman, she tells them that a map is not needed, but Nizhoni still needs to travel the path to the sun in order to free her father. Along the way, there are trials and tribulations, she briefly loses both Mac and Davery, and she finds someone from her past who is able to help. In the end, will her skills and powers as a Hero Twin be enough to send Mr. Charles and his monsters back and keep the world safe?
Good Points
This was much easier to follow than most fantasy books, and had a lot of action and adventure. The inclusion of Navajo mythology was well done, and Riordan's note that "mythology" means tales of gods and goddesses and does NOT necessarily mean false or untrue stories was very helpful. Nizhoni learns more about her culture from a variety of sources, embraces her role as a hero, and undertakes her quest with good humor. This was definitely one of the better books from this imprint; not a surprise, given the author's award winning background.

Soon, readers who like fantasies with cultural connections won't have to read anything BUT Rick Riordan presents books, because there are so many good titles coming out. Fans of other good titles such as Riazi's The Battle (Dasgupta's Game of Stars will enjoy Nizhoni's travels on her hero quest.
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