Race to the Sun

Race to the Sun (2020) by Rebecca Roanhorse was published by Rick Riordan presents, which aims to publish stories about non-European mythologies for middle-grade readers.

Nizhoni Begay is a 7th-grader at the intertribal school, best friend to Davery, and older sibling of 6th-grader, Mac. One day at a basketball game, she realizes she can see monsters (when she doesn’t think anyone else can) when she sees a lizard-man in the bleachers. Unfortunately, the monster turns out to be her fathers boss at the new job he’s just taken, which will require them to move to Oklahoma.

Her horned toad stuffed animal starts talking to her, and then her father disappears. She and Mac and Davery have to go on a quest to get monster-hunting weapons from the Sun, but they have to first find gifts for him from the Four Mountains of Dinetah, and ask Spider-Woman to show them the way.

I thought it was very well-done, and a great example of an indigenous hero, but there is criticism that Roanhorse has reduced and appropriated Navajo cultural narratives without regard to their sacred aspects, so I must recognize that as well. There was not a hint of anti-fat bias, as is usually the case with books written by Roanhorse.

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