Eagle Books - Youth Novels
Based on the popularity of the original Eagle Books series, the Native Diabetes Wellness Program (NDWP) is developing a series of novels for middle schoolers in Native communities. The novel, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream, is the first in a series of three books that will include a four-volume graphic novel based on the same story. The book features characters from the original series, but also expands the characters to include family members, teachers, store owners, other residents of a small reservation town, and an elderly box turtle. Adding to the understanding of type 2 diabetes presented in the original books, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream introduces the character of Arianna, a young girl with type 1 diabetes.
To encourage readership and healthy choices among middle schoolers, their families and communities, the novels employ entertainment-education (EE) as a communication strategy. Applying EE principles, the books appeal to middle schoolers by using the genres that have proven successful with this audience—adventure, fantasy, and mystery. The stories use relationships and emotion to lend authenticity and context to the character’s motivations and behaviors. EE-based storytelling creates believable characters that can serve as effective role models for healthy living. EE promotes problem-solving at community and individual levels, an extremely important ability for an age group that is exploring its own sense of independence and self-efficacy.
Added to this formula is the most important EE element, the seamless interweaving of health and educational messaging into the plot. In Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream, type 2 diabetes prevention messages about healthy eating, being physically active, and following traditional wisdom become part of the story itself. Moreover, Rain and his friends apply both Native and western science to avert the disruption of the reservation’s ecology, an implicit metaphor for maintaining metabolic balance in the human body.
Rain, now a 12-year-old, is visited once again by the eagle, but this time in a dream. As Rain sleeps, Sky Heart, the eagle, sings a song to him that ends with the refrain, "a boy must help us..." In the song, Sky Heart provides clues about strange vanishings on the Medicine Cave Indian Reservation. Thistle, the rabbit, has suspicions that Coyote is behind the disappearance of fossils from an ancient turtle, the sudden evaporation of water from the reservation’s rivers, and the ominous absence of a 7th grader from Thunder Rock Middle School.
Searching for the meaning of the dream, Rain seeks the help of Boomer (Thunder Cloud), Simon, and Hummingbird. Unknowingly, the four friends are drawn into the coyote’s game and the criminal activities of a dangerous fossil poaching ring. Deep within the gullies of Shell Ridge, an escarpment that borders the bed of an ancient sea, Rain follows Coyote to a mysterious cave where he discovers the origins of the reservation’s water and confronts the notorious fossil thief, Vernon Smeed—risking everything to save one that he loves.
With his pranks and deceptions, Coyote puts Rain through many tests. The trickster teaches the boy lessons that will last a lifetime, but he, too, learns an important truth—Sky Heart has chosen well. The great bird has entrusted his messages about health and the wisdom of Native knowledge to a remarkable boy whose strength is founded in the steadfastness of friends and love of family.
Free copies of Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream may be ordered by clicking here: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/Diabetes.aspx or by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO.