Book cover of Healer of the Water Monster

Healer of the Water Monster



Publisher & Publication Year

Heartdrum, 2021

Publisher's Book Page


Brian Young (Navajo)

Author's Website 


Shonto Begay (Diné)



When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer, with no electricity or cell service. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and with his uncle Jet, though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him. One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds someone extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story—a Water Monster—in need of help. Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to support Uncle Jet in healing from his own pain.

Notable Achievements

American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book; ALA Notable Children’s Book; Bank Street Children’s Best Books of the Year; American Indian Youth Literature Award Winner: Best Middle Grade Book


Publishers Weekly: "Gentle, complex characters and flawed, loving human relationships lend depth to Young’s worlds-spanning novel."

Kirkus Reviews: "The deeply grounded and original perspective of this story brings readers into both the worlds of Navajo blessing songs, rain songs, and traditional healing and everyday family relationships."

Educator Guide

This guide to Indigenous literature, created by Andrea Page in association with Heartdrum, includes discussion questions for Healer of the Water Monster as well as a general introduction to the importance of Indigenous books.

Link to Guide

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