The next Rick Riordan Presents book is out! The next Rick Riordan Presents book is out!! I’m as excited as my library kids are, because The Storm Runner has got the GOODS.
Middle schooler Zane Obispo is an ordinary kid. Kinda. I mean, he’s being raised by his single mom, hangs out with his pro wrestling-loving uncle, and loves exploring with his 3-legged dog, Rosie. But he also has his own volcano – there’s a dormant volcano right near his New Mexico home – and he tries to avoid the jerks at school who make fun of him, because one leg is shorter than the other. When a new girl named Brooks shows up at school and tells him he’s destined to release an evil god from the underworld, he thinks she’s crazy: until it really happens. Brooks is a shapeshifter than can turn into a hawk, Rosie is lost to the underworld while trying to protect Zane from a Mayan god who smells like puke, and Zane? He’s the son of another Mayan god. And now, with Ah-Puch unleashed, there’s a war brewing between the gods, including Zane’s father. Zane’s the only one who can put things right, but all he wants to do is save Rosie and leave them to it.
The Storm Runner is SO. GOOD. It’s a brilliant introduction to the Mayan pantheon, for starters. Narrated by Zane, we get some real talk about the awesomeness of a people that worshiped a goddess of chocolate (Ixcacao) and a Mayan giant who likes to tinker and invent things that would make the As Seen on TV people drool. There’s action and adventure, and a strong bonds of family and friendship that run through the book. The worldbuilding is fantastic, with delightfully gross descriptions of gooey, oozing gods and poisoned meatballs. There are key elements that fantasy fans will look for and love: the bonds of family and friendship, a strong sense of humor, and a disabled character who discovers the true nature of his disability as a source of power. (In Percy Jackson, kids with ADHD were descended from the Greek gods. Here, Zane’s leg is directly linked to his heritage, and the reveal is outrageous and fantastic.) There’s a glossary of Mayan terms, including pronunciation help.
Look at Irvin Rodriguez’s cover! That artwork is incredible! Want a program-in-a-book idea? Scholastic has some good activities; there are Mayan gods coloring pages. and The British Museum has good ideas. Spice up your library programming or ELA/History lessons!
This trend of exploring cultures through different pantheons is such fun and such a great learning experience. Give this to your Percy Jackson/Kane Chronicles/all the Riordan fans; your Aru Shah fans, your Serpent’s Secret fans – all your action, adventure, and fantasy fans. See what else is coming from Rick Riordan Presents here, and check out award-winning novelist JC Cervantes’ website here. The Storm Runner has starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal.