Review of Healer of the Water Monster

Healer of the Water Monster
by Brian Young
Intermediate, Middle School    Heartdrum/HarperCollins    368 pp.    g
5/21    978-0-06-299040-2    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-299042-6    $8.99

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.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.