Book review by Aarene Storms: Rez Dogs

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac
Malian was supposed to spend the weekend with her Penacook tribal grandparents, but then the pandemic happened, travel stopped,  and they all locked down together with the mysterious protective dog they call “Malsum” the old word for “wolf.”

Malian is a modern kiddo: she talks to her parents via Facetime every night, binge-watches old Star Trek episodes on Netflix, and attends online school when there is enough bandwidth for her to connect (signal strength is unpredictable on the reservation).

Malian also overlays fear of the virus with the love and sense of belonging and resiliency she feels on the reservation. Her ancestors survived plagues brought by white explorers, her grandparents survived government boarding schools, and her own mother survived and returned to the tribe after social services took her away to be adopted by a white family. 

Malian straddles two cultures gracefully, helped by hearing traditional tribal tales and family stories.
Indigenous storyteller, poet, and acclaimed author Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) gracefully integrates tales of trickster heroes and ancestors into this gentle contemporary story. 
Content alerts:  historic and modern oppression of native peoples including forced sterilization, the harsh conditions of American Indian Residential Schools, discussion of racial justice issues, plus love, friendship, and frybread. Recommended for readers ages 10 to adult.

Aarene Storms is a librarian who reads and reviews books for all ages. She can be reached at


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