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Book: Race to the Sun pdf free download | Race to the Sun read online free
Type: Graphic Novel
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 Davey 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 . . .
Changing Woman. Rock Crystal Boy. The Glittering World. The Hero Twins.
If those names don’t ring a bell, you’ve been missing out on some of the coolest mythology anywhere. (And as always, when I use the term myth, I use it in its first and most basic sense: a traditional story about gods and heroes, not in its later, more secondary connotation as something false or made up.) But don’t worry. Thanks to Rebecca Roanhorse and Race to the Sun, you’re about to plunge headfirst into the fabulous, scary, wonderful story-world of the Diné, also called the Navajo. Even if you already know something about traditional Navajo tales, you are going squee with delight, because you have never experienced them like this before.
Meet Nizhoni Begay. (Her first name is pronounced Ni-jho-knee. It means ‘beauty.’) In many ways, she’s a typical New Mexico seventh grader. She just wants to be good at something, to get some respect at school. Unfortunately, nothing works. Her bid for internet fame is a fail. Her chance to become a sports superstar ends with a basketball in the face. She can barely manage to hang on to her one good friend Davery, who runs the lunchtime Ancestor Club in the library, and try to protect her artsy younger brother Mac from getting beat up by school bullies.
As if that wasn’t enough, Nizhoni has another small issue. Recently she’s started seeing monsters. Nobody else seems to notice, but Nizhoni is pretty sure that even Mr. Charles, the rich guy who is offering Nizhoni’s dad a new job in Oklahoma, is not human. Worse, it seems that Mr. Charles has sought out the Begay family because he considers Nizhoni some kind of threat . . .
I love this story, and not just because it’s a page-turning, funny, brilliant read. The point of Rick Riordan Presents is to publish and promote great voices from cultures that have been too often marginalized or erased by mainstream culture. No one has suffered more from this than Native and Indigenous peoples.
As Rebecca says in her author’s note, it’s important for Native kids to be able to see themselves in fiction, but it’s equally important for non-Native kids to read about Native characters who aren’t just a collection of stereotypes or long-dead figures from the past. Native cultures are alive and well and vibrant. Their stories can tell you about the original American gods and heroes, those who inhabited and embodied this land for thousands of years before the Europeans brought over their interloping Zeuses and Aphrodites and what-have-yous.
I’ll tell you something I don’t normally share. Piper McLean, the half-Cherokee character in The Heroes of Olympus series, was inspired by conversations I had with Native kids during school visits, of which I did hundreds over the years. They asked me repeatedly whether I could add a Native hero to Percy Jackson’s world. They wanted to see themselves reflected at Camp Half-Blood, because they simply never saw themselves in popular kids’ books. Piper was my way of saying, “Absolutely! I see you. I value you. You can be part of my world anytime!”
But my perspective is not a Native perspective. It was one thing to include Piper as part of the heroic ensemble, to share Percy Jackson’s world with kids from all backgrounds and send a message that heroes can come from all sorts of places. It would be quite another thing to write entirely from a Native protagonist’s point-of-view, about the mythology of his or her own culture.
That sort of story needed to come from a Native writer, and I yearned to find stories like that and put them into the hands of young readers, Native and non-Native alike. There are so many wonderful Indigenous mythologies. They deserve to be read, shared and spotlighted.
For Native kids, seeing themselves reflected in books is critical. Seeing themselves reflected in the authors who create those books is exponentially more empowering. I am thrilled that Rebecca Roanhorse agreed to write Race to the Sun for Rick Riordan Presents. It is a much-needed addition to children’s fiction, and I hope it’s the first of many!
For all kids, reading about other cultures’ mythologies is a way to expand their imagination and their empathy. There’s an old Czech proverb: Learn a new language, gain a new soul. Mythology is similar. The traditional sacred stories of every culture can offer us a new window onto the world – a new way of seeing and understanding. As a bonus, mythology is wildly entertaining!
But I’ve said enough. I’ll let Nizhoni Begay take it from here. Welcome to the Dinétah. Keep your hands and feet inside the novel at all times, or some monster might bite them off. If you’re really good, maybe the Begay family will take you to the Pasta Palace afterward for some macaravioli!