Date reviewed: 2/17/03 author’s website
Summary: Kendall is of mixed Acoma American Indian (mother) and Anglo American (father) blood. His mother dies early on in the story of an unnamed sickness and the story really begins at the one year anniversary of her death. Kendall wants to spend the summer with his older brother and father driving cross-country hauling freight in their rig. However, Kendall is requested to spend some time with his grandfather, Armando, in Sky City – his mother’s Acoma ancestral home. Kendall has to find where he really fits in in the Acoma community and why he feels compelled to run.
Personal Reaction: I liked this book very much. I appreciated that the author didn’t try to explain the magic associated with tribal ways and let it just be. Nothing extremely climactic happens in this book (even the climax is mellow), but the personal struggle of Kendall to figure out his instinctual visions is compelling.
Points for discussion with children: sibling relationships, Native Americans & culture
Possible classroom uses: This might be a good addition to a classroom extension on a Native American unit, but I don’t think it is something you HAVE to read. Boys and girls could get into this one. May be a good choice for a Phys Ed classroom library.
Connections to other books? Any of Joseph Bruchac’s novels would work well – I liked Skeleton Man very much , also Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear: Stories from Native North America. Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark is a good example of another Indian boy learning about his ancestry and culture; even Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli can be used as a connection with the running theme.
Realia: dream catcher, sweatband, photographs of mesas in Acoma, New Mexico, snake sculpture, lightning bolt, pottery
Food items connected to story: bread, water, Taco Bell items