Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT
For teenager SILKI ROSE BEGAY, the cord between her previously carefree childhood on the outskirts of the town of Mesa Redondo in the Navajo Nation and the pressures of approaching adulthood is suddenly tightening around her neck like a noose. Her professor mother’s educational projects never end, and Silki feels more and more like a test rat for her and her mother’s colleagues. Now, they want her to spend a whole month of her summer in the high school library painstakingly working through their new Diné language program, Diné Bizaad Ya’at’eeh?
If that isn’t bad enough, Silki thinks her lifelong best friend BIRDIE must have had her brain surgically replaced with a volleyball… else how can she give up her horse TITO and the girls’ wild horseback antics for a stupid game like volleyball? Since they were in cradleboards, Silki’s imaginative ideas have been tons of fun for them, but these days, those ideas only make Birdie mad as she finds more reasons not to spend time with Silki. GRANDMOTHER keeps pressuring Silki to dig deeper into their cultural traditions, and NICK, her older brother, arrives on leave from the Marines only to be called back within a few days. It’s enough to make Silki jump on her horse SMILES and head to Concho Mountain for a breather.
Lonesome for her best friend, but still enjoying the breathtaking scenery, she visits the giant anthill beside Red Rocks to confiscate a few tiny arrowheads and bead fragments the ants have gathered in their labors. Later, while on Weaver Rock, her frybread is an inch from her lips when a feathered, shrieking something leaps from a rocky outcrop and crashes through the brush up the mountain. Did the Ancient Ant Man, whom she and Birdie call Wol-la-chee, come to punish the girls for “stealing” sacred artifacts from the bustling anthill? Silki invented that character several summers ago, so how did he come to life? How will she ever explain what happened to Birdie when she has lately been accusing her of getting her real and unreal mixed up?
The Wol-la-chee sighting propels Silki into a summer mystery in which nothing is as it seems. The pressure increases with each unexplainable event until Silki decides she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands and confront the Ancient herself.
That’s when the real danger begins…
Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM
Award-Winning First Chapter:
CANYON OF DOOM, Chapter 1, “The Stranger”
I LAUGHED WHEN a two-hundred-pound sheep threw me off his back when I was five. I cried when they told me I couldn’t get back on. Losing the Woolly Ride competition at the Navajo Nation Fair wasn’t what upset me. I just didn’t like that sheep thinking he’d pulled something over on me.
Someone could say he pulled the wool over my eyes, and I’d laugh at the play on words, but I wouldn’t think it was funny deep inside. I don’t like being fleeced. Oh, sorry. What I’m trying to explain is how the stranger who came to our Navajo Rez that hot day in early August threw my suspicious-sensing nature into high alert.
As it turns out, I was right on target.
It wasn’t that the stranger was too tall to be Navajo. So was my grandfather. The stranger’s starched and pressed Levi jeans weren’t the problem either. The Marines in our family wore their jeans all perfect like that too. No, something else about the tall man didn’t add up. I decided that right after we collided on the sidewalk by the Bashas’ Grocery Store parking lot in my town of Mesa Redondo.
The collision was kind of my fault since I didn’t look very well before taking off in a run toward Copper Park. Okay, I didn’t look at all. My mind was on important things, like catching Cousin TeeShirt and coaxing a barrel racing lesson out of him later that afternoon. I remember glancing over my shoulder at Auntie Blue Corn at the flea market the same moment I took off and wham! I slammed dead center into what felt like a sack of concrete. It changed my perspective, that’s for sure.
Sparkles in the cement and a sno-cone holder flattened by a black shoeprint loomed large on my way down to the sidewalk in a perfect belly flop. On impact, my air whistled out with an airy ssshrrrshh, followed by a curly wheeze. My whole body burned, and for the first time in four days, I forgot how much I missed my best friend Birdie.
While I struggled to get a deep breath, boots and shoes gathered around me, and I hated that because it meant I was the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. Sharp-toed brown cowboy boots covered in bumpy leather almost speared my arm.
“You all right, young lady?” rumbled a thunderbolt-kind of voice I didn’t recognize. I looked up, then rocked my head backward to get my first glimpse of the stranger.
“I-I guess so,” I stammered.
“You sure?” There was that cavernous voice again. Heat pricked my cheeks and spread to my ears. Could I just blink and disappear? I sat up. The man thrust an arm toward me. He cleared his throat, impatiently, I thought. I wasn’t used to grasping a stranger’s hand, but it seemed my best escape from the circle of gawkers.
My hand no more than touched his when I found myself sailing off the ground as fast as a whip snap. He leaned down close to my face. Eyes the exact amber-brown color of Tiger’s Eye gems glared at me over a pair of mirrored sunglasses.
“Don’t run through crowds.” His voice made me think of a low dog growl. He walked off in long steps and vanished into the crowd. I stared at the spot where he’d become air.
Oh-my-gosh! Birdie was missing everything—fame because our picture was in the newspaper, the last few weeks before school started, and a stranger of interest in town.
Before the day was over, Birdie would also miss the most dangerous day of my life.
Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: VALLEY OF SHADOWS
Reviews that tell all...
Valley of Shadows is the third book of Jodi Lea Stewart’s Silki, The Girl of Many Scarves series. The protagonist is Silki Begay, a teenager and member of the Navajo Tribe living in the Arizona region of the Navajo Nation. Her adventures in Valley of Shadows include dealing with horse thieves, scaring off a puma, finding a lost child, facing down a rattlesnake, reuniting families, and learning more of the tribal ways of her people. Silki, her horse Smiles, her family, and her friends made me laugh and cry aloud. Stewart’s writing style is evocative and brought back many memories of both my younger years and the five years I spent teaching and administering in the public schools on the Navajo Rez. Valley of Shadows addresses questions most adolescents and teens have and most adults will remember having. Spoiler alert, it has a happy ending. You might join me in reading it more than once! This novel, along with Books One and Two of the Silki series, makes a splendid gift set for any age reader ~ Terry Sanders, former teacher in the Navajo Rez, counselor, martial-arts teacher/professional
Jodi Lea Stewart has written a mesmerizing tale woven with historical and native culture accuracy that educates as well as entertains readers of all ages. Even as an adult, I find Jodi Lea’s stories an adventure-filled joy to read. Clearly, she is one of the best authors around. Why these stories aren't on film yet is beyond me ~ Oscar “Oz” Edwin Dillon, III, Film Actor (Texas Rein), Information Specialist, Equestrian
Building on the first two books in this series, Summer of the Ancient and Canyon of Doom, Valley of Shadows brings the reader deeper into the life, legends, and myths of the People and their Reservation. It’s a great read, as were the first books, with lots of mental pictures being painted by a superb storyteller. Reading the part about Angel the mare, and her adopted foals… well, keep a tissue handy. When I read it, dust mysteriously blew in my eyes! That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Hoping this won't be the last we read of Silki; but, if it is, I hope Silki, Birdie, Smiles, and the rest of her family enjoy their lives as much as I have enjoyed reading about them. This, trilogy, might be rated YA, but we older YA's (I'm 65) love it as well ~ Wayne Edgin, Radioman USN ’71-75, Communications Systems Researcher of 19th and 20thCentury, Action-Shooting Competitor, Classic-Irish-Instrument Musician
Jodi Lea Stewart
I am a strange sort of author who writes high-concept novels with a literary pen. The adrenaline starts in my heart, flows into my fingers, and out onto the keys. My central plot theme always involves triumph over adversity. I’m really a born Texan, but part of my childhood was spent on a large cattle ranch in Arizona near the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe. My pastimes were singing to chickens, climbing giant petroglyph-etched boulders, hanging on for dear life in the back of rattly old pickups driven over terracotta roads so washed out they qualified as mini-Grand Canyons, and riding one of the orneriest horses God ever put on this planet. Many monsoon seasons later, I happily write historical and contemporary novels set in the South, the Southwest, and beyond.