Fantasy novel is a positive, empowering must-read

“The Dreamcatcher Codes” (Green Writers Press) by first-time author Barbara Newman is an eco-fantasy about four girls who come together for a great purpose: to save planet Earth from the destructive forces of climate change.

In the course of this quest, appointed Earth Guardians, Maia, Ava, Falcon and Yue not only discover their own exceptional capabilities but the strength and sustenance that comes from the bond of sisterhood.

Passed down to these four friends is the ancient tradition of indigenous peoples who have cherished Mother Earth — the elements, the land and its creatures — throughout the ages. This wisdom, hidden in the sacred codes of Nature, is a powerful force that is not only beautiful and hopeful but essential for every living being on the planet. The ancient traditions equip the girls for their vital and dangerous odyssey.

FOUR GIRLS’ QUEST TO SAVE A PLANET IN GREAT PERIL

The story begins with Sophia Rose, the lifelong friend of Maia’s mother, Keya. A chosen Guardian of the Earth, Sophia understands the plant and animal kingdoms. She has immersed herself in the gods’ and goddesses’ secret symbols and the myths and lore that have evolved throughout time.

The Crystal Horseshoe, which holds the knowledge and wisdom of the planet, is under Sophia’s protection. While holding the crystal in her hand, a fierce storm descends out of nowhere. To keep the crystal safe, Sophia clutches it to her chest with all of her might but ends up breaking the crystal into six pieces. Before she can retrieve them, a black raven swoops in and steals the remnants. The loss of this crystal places the planet in great peril.

Sophia and Keya realize they must pass down the guardianship to a younger generation, who can then conduct the search. They appoint Maia as Sophia’s replacement; now, Maia must call forth three other girls to help her find the missing crystal.

Each girl represents an essential part of the world. Falcon, from the East, is air; Ava from the South is fire; Yue from the West is water, and Maia, from the North, is the soul of the earth. Equipped with magical flying horses and crystal GPS belts created by Sophia, these Guardians travel the world searching for the crystal.

REFRESHING EXPLORATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Barbara Newman combines her advocacies of girls’ leadership and care of the earth into a rich and beautifully written story that adds a crucial element to the conversation regarding climate change. This book is not preachy or strident, nor is it dystopian — a refreshing change of tone in discussing environmental issues. It is a story based on hope for the renewal of Mother Earth through the cooperation of humanity.

It is a story of connection between very different people, plants and creatures, traditions and ancestral history. It is a story that will inspire girls to dig deep within and ponder what empowers them. Newman makes a call to action for our planet that is far more persuasive because of its positive and hopeful nature. Her approach makes The Dreamcatcher Codes a must-read not only for young people but for adults as well.

Barbara Newman calls her first book “a love letter to Mother Earth and all of her daughters.” I call “The Dreamcatcher Codes” a thoughtful and enriching read.

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