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*Under a Stand Still Moon* by Ann Howard Creel- young adult book review  
Under a Stand Still Moon
by Ann Howard Creel
Grades 6+ 183 pages Brown Barn Books July 2005 Paperback    

Under a Stand Still Moon touched me on an indefinable level, yet I try to define and identify it. Even as I make this statement, I find myself attempting to explain emotions evoked by the saga of a young Native American girl and her family to you, my readers, all the while silently pleading with unseen powers that my meanings be clear.

It is a romantic tale; it is a historical epic tabulating important traits of the people who first inhabited this great land of ours. Ann Howard Creel tells it in excruciatingly poignant tones that wring the reader’s emotions dry, insuring her reading audiences will be pushed to their limits. We are involuntarily transmitted from highs to lows, from the heights of hope to the depths of despair, from exhilaration to melancholy.

Under a Stand Still Moon is a tale of beginnings. In it, we meet Summer Girl, "Born of the Stand Still Moon." It’s a time when children were named by when and where they began:

“…it is Father who has told me the story of my birth many times over. That I entered this world under a Stand Still Moon, a rare season when the Moon halts its course in the sky and rises nightly between the two rock pinnacles, our Twin War Gods.”
It’s a time when we knew what we were and why we were:
“My first name, Born of the Stand Still Moon, served to remind everyone in our village that much would be expected of me, that much honor would I bring to the Waterfall Clan…”
In the Anasazi tradition, this young girl who, from an early age, knows her purpose for being will become yet another entity, Echo—shortened from Echo Song, a name given her by her father because her voice echoes throughout the mesa in song—still destined to bring honor and life to her people. The Anasazi (Navajo for “ancient ones”) were an ancient native North American people whose successors include the Pueblo of present day northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona.

Creel tells this story in present tense and first person through the eyes of the young girl who will, unexpectedly, fall in love with Falcon, her older brother Jumping Fish’s best friend, whom she will give up to marry another to save her clan and village. Her character and inner strength become evident in that act of sacrifice in one so young. Not even the shattering of innocent and passion-filled dreams of a true, guileless love as that shared by these two young idealistic dreamers can cause Echo to view her plight in a negative light.

Written for the young adult market, this is an intriguing and informative read - a refreshing read - and receives the highest rating I could give it - 5 out of 5 stars, but I’d give it at least twice that rating if I could. This is a delightful choice for summer reading, geared for young adults yet suitable for younger readers. Parents need not be concerned about language; themes on marriage and the clan’s preparing its young for entering that phase of life might remind one of a much simpler and gentler time in our own culture and traditions.

To read more about the Pueblo and their descent from the Anasazi follow these links: Pueblo (people) and The Anasazi Culture: The Old Ones of the Southwest by David Roberts.

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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