Young Healer, The

Overview

In THE YOUNG HEALER tradition meets contemporary when what starts out as just another day becomes anything but that for young Feather Anderson. Her beloved grandfather, a traditional Lakota healer, pulls her out of class one snowy morning and takes her on an old-fashioned vision quest in the heart of New York City in hopes of finding the perfect Lakota medicine. It becomes the most magical day ever for eleven-year-old Feather Anderson, the day she saves her little brother’s life. Feather follows in her ...

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Overview

In THE YOUNG HEALER tradition meets contemporary when what starts out as just another day becomes anything but that for young Feather Anderson. Her beloved grandfather, a traditional Lakota healer, pulls her out of class one snowy morning and takes her on an old-fashioned vision quest in the heart of New York City in hopes of finding the perfect Lakota medicine. It becomes the most magical day ever for eleven-year-old Feather Anderson, the day she saves her little brother’s life. Feather follows in her grandfather’s footsteps of healing as a medicine man and she then earns her newly-given secret Lakota name.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
If the reader can suspend credulity this might be an engaging story. Young Feather Anderson (she is part Lakota) and Grandfather, a Lakota healer, embark on a race in and around New York City in a snowstorm to gather the items they need to perform a ritual to cure her dying brother. The vision quest takes them to FAO Schwartz, Chinatown, the zoo in Central Park and the Empire State building to get what they need to perform certain rites. Along the way Grandfather instructs Feather on the ways of her people and her role as the new healer. They arrive at the hospital and must use subterfuge for Feather to gain access to her brother's room, chant the ancient prayers, and cure her brother. There is little to like and much to criticize in this debut novel and National Association of Elementary School Principals Book of the Year Contest winner. The author's goal is to teach respect for indigenous people but he vacillates between calling them Native Americans and Indians. There are no notes to authenticate the rituals and their purity to the Lakota tradition. It is peopled with one—dimensional characters like the quintessential Jewish grandmother, the harried single mom, and distant dad. It lacks suspense because the reader knows from the outset that the boy lives. The mysterious old Chinese woman who seems to know everyone's needs even before they do, the "magical" taxi that appears without summons, the ability to stand in the cage of a mama Kodiak bear and stare her down, and Peter bouncing joyfully in his hospital bed moments after awaking from a life—threatening coma all strain credibility. Awkward similes (nervous "like a Chihuahua on latte" and bounced "like a jeep with bad shocks") often seem out of place in a story that adopts such a serious tone and subject matter. All in all this is a worthy first attempt that needs much more editing to be successful. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
Kirkus Reviews
On the day her little brother Peter is hospitalized with a life-threatening illness, 11-year-old Feather is taken on a spirit quest through Manhattan in a series of improbable events in which her Lakota grandfather passes on some of his powers as a traditional healer. Feather describes the day she saved her 5-year-old brother's life in a chronological narrative she writes up after the fact. This frame reassures readers but removes most of the suspense. Her focus is not plot but the particulars of her spiritual training. This cultural appropriation of another's religious traditions is surprisingly insensitive. Although the Texan author has dedicated his book to generic "First Americans," his only stated personal connection is "lifelong interest and respect." No sources are provided for the mishmash of Native American cultural and ceremonial details. Wooden dialogue and stereotyped characters add to reader discomfort. Also involved in Feather's training are a magical taxi driver, an Arapaho with whom her grandfather can "talk the old talk," although those peoples had different languages; a Kodiak bear in the Central Park Zoo; Mrs. Chen, the ageless owner of an international curio shop in Greenwich Village; and the Andersons' Jewish landlady, a Holocaust survivor, who brings chicken soup to the boy. Readers who would like to go on a spirit quest should choose instead Sylvia Ross' more carefully crafted and respectful Blue Jay Girl (2010). (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934133507
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2012
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 249,343
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank N. McMillan III has had a lifelong interest in and respect for the history and traditions of the first Americans. He consults with nonprofit organizations that address homelessness, poverty, illiteracy, and other urgent social issues. He lives in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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