The Prairie Monster
by Ronald S. Martinez Sr.

"They began to learn each other’s languages and customs, and together they fell in love with the prairie monster."

This intriguing children’s book—a fictional account of friendship, danger, and imagination—references historical events in a fascinating and memorable way. Young boys Igasho and Tomas are best friends in the town of La Junta, Colorado. La Junta is Spanish for “the meeting,” which references the meeting place of two cultures: Native American and Spanish. The friends become inseparable playmates and learn each other’s language and customs. During their exciting explorations of the trails, they discover a large footprint and create a vivid story about the “prairie monster” which made the footprint. Father Marcos, a Catholic priest who is their friend, guide, and mentor, encourages them to find men of science and alert them of their discovery. However, danger may shatter their mission of changing the world when Cuerno Verde, a Native American enemy, chases and finds their group on the Santa Fe trail. Will scientists get to discover the data and drawings of Tomas and Igasho to make their own conclusions about the monster’s existence, or will the obstacles lining up against making this discovery public prove too formidable?

Readers will find the historical comparisons in this book rich and appealing. For instance, animal tracks in the eastern plains of Colorado prove the existence 165 million years ago of both meat-eating monsters (the Allosaurus) and plant-eating monsters (the Apatosaurus). This sharing of space is reflective of the coexistence of Spanish settlers and Native Americans in the current story. Readers will eagerly anticipate twists in the tale with Father Marcos’ early foreshadowing of upcoming obstacles on the journey. The vivid description of Tomas’ family teaches the reader about the history of this interesting geographical location in an engaging way.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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