Little Badger, Darcie. Elatsoe. Rovina Cai, Illus. Fiction. Levine Querido, 08/2020. 368pp. $18.99. 978-1-64614-005-3. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 7-12.
Ellie is a Lipan Apache teen with the hereditary gift of raising spirits, but primarily the spirit of her beloved dog Kirby. Her summer plans abruptly change when her cousin Trevor dies and his spirit appears to her, naming his murderer and asking her to prove how he was killed, and to protect his wife and infant son. If readers are not immediately hooked by the ghost dog, the world that unfurls in this tale will catch their attention; Ellie and her family and friends are up against vampires, small-town Texas intrigue, and a doctor with frightening gifts of healing. The blend of Indigenous culture and history with a fast-paced murder mystery is hard to put down. Ellie’s best friend is white, and Trevor’s widow is Latina; it is casually mentioned that Ellie is asexual. Simple but compelling b&w illustrations of Ellie’s sixth-great-grandmother (known as “Six-Great”) and her ghost dog start off each chapter. Though it is catalogued as a teen book, this is a story with wide appeal for any readers looking for a fresh mystery.
Eny Calvert, Alameda County Library