Eagle Drums -- New Middle Grade Native American Novel


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

November is Native American Heritage Month. This year I have not done as much as I normally do for November. We shared a Native American picture book about protecting our water earlier this month. Today I am sharing a middle grades novel that is also written by a Native American. It shares a bit of folklore and myth about the origin of the Messenger's Feast. It is called Eagle Drums by Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson. The suggested reading age is 8 to 12. 

From the Publishers:

A magical realistic middle grade debut about the origin story of the Iñupiaq Messenger Feast, a Native Alaskan tradition.

As his family prepares for winter, a young, skilled hunter must travel up the mountain to collect obsidian for knapping—the same mountain where his two older brothers died.

When he reaches the mountaintop, he is immediately confronted by a terrifying eagle god named Savik. Savik gives the boy a choice: follow me or die like your brothers.

What comes next is a harrowing journey to the home of the eagle gods and unexpected lessons on the natural world, the past that shapes us, and the community that binds us.

Eagle Drums by Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson is part cultural folklore, part origin myth about the Messenger’s Feast – which is still celebrated in times of bounty among the Iñupiaq. It’s the story of how Iñupiaq people were given the gift of music, song, dance, community, and everlasting tradition.

From Me:

I love hearing Native American stories. This one shares a magical world and has a strong message about connecting to others. It takes place in the Arctic. It is full of information about the Arctic region from weather and sunlight to plants and more. I love the use of the Native language for many of the words and names. The story pulls you in with the mystery of what happened to the boy's brothers as well as what might happen to him. At times the story is harsh as the eagle gods are hard masters. The boy misses his family and fears for his life throughout it. However, the end message is about connecting with others and the harsh training serves a purpose for the better. 

The book also has a few pages of illustrations (one per chapter) to help the reader visualize the story and location. The illustrations are beautiful. The story is interesting and keeps the reader wanting to know more. It is a perfect book to learn more about the Iñupiaq people and their culture and to be added to an indigenous people unit. I can see this book used in a classroom to discuss origin stories and myths as well as Native American cultures. Storytelling is very important in most Native American cultures. The stories have been passed down orally through many generations. This is one of those stories. It is a legend or myth about the origin of the Messenger's Feast. A feast I did not know about but find intriguing now. I hope you will check out this interesting book!