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A Medicine Dream and Warrior Ghosts

The novel introduces mystical Native American lore; demonstrates the devastating effect of bullying; friendship and loyalty, with both humans and animals; develops and matures the characters; intrigue, near-death experiences, and paranormal events lead the reader in a fast-paced adventure.

A Medicine Dream and Warrior Ghosts Synopsis

Foureen-year-old Blackfeet Native American Johnny Bear Child is bullied by Larry, Skinny, and Chub. Johnny runs away to a mountain hideaway to pursue a medicine dream, hoping its power will enable him to defeat the bullies. Coyotes, vivid dreams, thirst, hunger, injuries, and a thunderstorm threaten Johnny’s life. His great-grandfather’s ghost appears. He offers advice, gives Johnny a special feather and his warrior name.

Searchers and Whiterobe, Johnny’s dog, find him four days later, barely alive. Sarah, a classmate, befriends Johnny. They embark on a horseback riding outing, and stumble upon a long-hidden cave. An old legend exists purporting that it is haunted and houses a treasure. They plan to explore the cave—without adults. The bullies sneak in behind them. Deep inside the cavern, three warrior ghosts attack and capture the five explorers. During a panicky escape attempt, Skinny is injured. Jeffrey Carlisle, a ghost who died while prospecting for the treasure over a hundred years ago is also a captive. He warns the teens that they will never escape—alive or dead. Using sign language, Johnny tells the warrior ghosts that his great-grandfather’s ghost will take them to their happy hunting grounds. Disbelieving Johnny, they drop him into a whirlpool. Johnny’s great-grandfather’s ghost rescues him. He and the warrior ghosts disappear. Johnny and Chub go for help, leaving Larry, Sarah and Whiterobe with Skinny. Larry abandons them to look for the treasure. Returning with the rescue team, Johnny and Whiterobe lead them on the search for Larry. The boys scuffle and fall into a raging river. Whiterobe saves them, but is swept away.

The bullies reconcile their behavior. Whiterobe returns home, injured. Johnny gains a better understanding of himself, as well as those who do not understand him or themselves, thus fulfilling his medicine dream. He and his new friends plan to return to the cave in search of the treasure.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: This YA adventure follows 14-year-old Blackfoot Native American Johnny Bear Child as he encounters a new school, bullies, and learns about the support a good friend can provide. Babcock's book is crisply organized and strongly plotted. Its attention to detail provides insight into Native American traditions in a manner that comes across as largely authentic. The adventures are exciting but reasonably resolved.

Prose: The author's prose is strong, clear, and concise. The novel offers both memorable moments of realistic drama alongside enigmatic spiritual elements.

Originality: The book's backdrop of Native American belief systems is in itself unusual. The topics of bullying, friendship, and suicide are commonly explored in the YA category, but Babcock's work offers a unique viewpoint.

Character Development: The characters are generally organic and respectfully multilayered. The believable dialogue effectively carries the story forward, with occasional clunky and overly orchestrated moments.

Date Submitted: August 28, 2019

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 4 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 6.50 out of 10

Assessment:

Native American Johnny Bear Child is continually dealing the same three bullies, Larry Jacobs, Frank “Skinny” Callahan, and Danny “Chub” Parker. To gain strength, Johnny embarks on a medicine dream to converse with his great grandfather’s spirit. Despite stiff dialogue throughout, the novel is engaging -- and its greatest strength is its depiction of Native American lore. A well-structured plot with the possibility of a sequel and surprise shifts in the action make this a book that does not disappoint the reader.

Date Submitted: September 18, 2016

Reviews
David B. Crawley

Nona Burroughs Babcock has crafted another winner with "Little Wolf's Adventure." It is categorized as a children's book, and I feel it would be appropriate reading for a child over the age of ten or twelve; but I also believe adults of any age, male or female, will find it a very entertaining read - in fact, I could hardly put it down. I recommend you get a copy of this book, read it, and then pass it on to your children or grandchildren. It would be a wonderful book to read aloud as a family, one chapter at a time. It is a great adventure that also imparts some moral lessons about human relationships, the evils of discrimination, the importance of showing your children your love for them, and demonstrates the level of loyalty that is possible between a canine and his master.

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