A new YA fantasy novel by Berkshire resident, filmmaker, and would-be cowgirl Barbara Newman hit the book stands this week. In The Dreamcatcher Codes—four girls from diverse backgrounds come together to save the earth from malevolent forces. The story builds cultural bridges, unity, and hope, and illuminates two critical issues of our time: climate change and girls claiming their voices and vital place in the world.
As the story begins, the earth is gasping for breath, its only hope: the sacred Codes of Nature. But they’ve been stolen—snatched by a giant raven during a raging storm.
Sophia Rose, Guardian of Mother Earth, has summoned Maia from the North to lead Falcon, Ava, and Yue on a quest to find the Codes and save the planet. But the odds are against the young rescuers. Time is running out; the bees are dying; the oceans are filled with plastic—and a dark energy lurks in the shadows, threatening their mission.
Powered by the elements—earth, air, fire, and water—messages from mystical dreamcatchers, and guidance from the ancestors, this fierce sisterhood must rely on courage, mythic horses, and each other if they are to succeed. Their epic adventure takes them on a daring journey and, ultimately, to a deeper understanding of their own unique place in the universe.
In her review for Booktrib, Susan Bailey writes:
“Barbara Newman combines her advocacies of girls’ leadership and care of the earth into a rich and beautifully written story that adds a crucial element to the conversation regarding climate change. This book is not preachy or strident, nor is it dystopian — a refreshing change of tone in discussing environmental issues. It is a story based on hope for the renewal of Mother Earth through the cooperation of humanity.
It is a story of connection between very different people, plants and creatures, traditions and ancestral history. It is a story that will inspire girls to dig deep within and ponder what empowers them. Newman makes a call to action for our planet that is far more persuasive because of its positive and hopeful nature. Her approach makes The Dreamcatcher Codes a must-read not only for young people but for adults as well.”
The Dreamcatcher Codes has had a number of sensitivity readers, including a Lakota historian and member of the Oglala Nation, along with a member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. It also has the blessing of Great Grandmother Mary Lyons, an Ojibwe elder and author, who says of the book, ” “Imagination, adventure, and hope rest within these pages.”
Fellow local writer Courtney Maum, author of Touch, Costalegre, and the upcoming memoir The Year of the Horses, calls The Dreamcatcher Codes “A timely and lushly drawn story about fearless young women blazing new paths for themselves and Mother Earth.”
First-time novelist Barbara Newman always wanted to be a cowgirl, and growing up in New York didn’t stop her. She leveraged her can-do spirit to become an award-winning creative director, leaving an indelible mark on global brand culture. After hearing an NPR story about the American cowgirl, she was so inspired that she left the ad world and wound up in Montana, Wyoming, and Texas, filming a documentary about these women of the West. An advocate for empowering girls, Barbara facilitates girls’ leadership programs and was part of the think tank that inspired the Fred Rogers Center for Children’s Media and Education. Barbara has a fierce love for and attachment to the natural world. She lives in the Berkshires with her husband and their English bulldog. The Dreamcatcher Codes is her love letter to Mother Earth and all of her daughters.
The Dreamcatcher Codes is now available for preorder at local bookstores and online. An audio book produced by local company Alison Larkin Presents is in the works. Find out more at https://www.barbaranewmanauthor.com/