*Rwendigo Tales by J. A. Myhre

Dr. Myhre wrote the engaging Rwendigo Tales, a middle grades series with spiritual overtones, based upon her experience as a doctor serving in Africa.

Note: this is one of our featured titles for our 2024 Summer Reading Program—Around the World: Asia & Africa! You can buy this book, and the rest, through our Summer Reading Book Fair with Storyglory Kids. (Use our coupon code Redeemed15 for 15% off your books!).

*Rwendigo Tales by J. A. Myhre. New Growth Press.

  • A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest, 2015. 128 pages.
  • A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue, 2016. 128 pages.
  • A Forest, a Flood, and an Unlikely Star. 2017. 144 pages.
  • A Fever, a Flight, and a Fight for the World. 2018. 176 pages.

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8 and up.

Recommended For: Middle Grades, age 8 and up (See below for considerations; this series ages up well for teen readers, too)

I’ve seen this series popping up on all sorts of platforms over the past few years, but we missed it when it first came out! Thankfully, New Growth Press sent us all four, so I can review the entire series in one roundup.

This series ages up well. The earliest I’d recommend children read it is around age 8, but you may want to wait a little later, particularly given the scope of issues addressed. The author has been a doctor in Africa with Serge for many years; these books are based on her experience in East Africa, and she donates a percentage of her profits from them to the work Serge is doing. You can also donate directly to the ministry. (The Rwendigo Fund is the recipient for our 2024 Summer Reading Donation!) The books were originally written as Christmas gifts for her four children, written across a four-year span. That is partly why, I think, the final book works for a slightly older audience than the first. However, you should read them in order for the final book to make the most sense.

Finally, a small grammar nerd spotting: note the Oxford commas in the titles! Three cheers!

Rwendigo Tales #1: A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest

cover of rwendigo tales book 1: a chameleon, a boy, and a quest

The day the chameleon spoke to Mu did not begin with any hint of the extraordinary.

~p. 1, A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest

An so we’re plunged into the “unlikely adventure” that the first chapter promises. Ten-year-old Mu, the “boy” of the title, doesn’t know it at first, but he’s about to set off on a quest, a quest that the chameleon will help guide him on. That quest takes Mu from his humble village where he is a water boy (a double dishonor since it’s normally just girls who do that menial task) on a dangerous journey that ends with a family reunion. Along the way, Mu ends up with another animal friend, a large dog (Botu), who gives the ultimate sacrifice as he protects Mu from dangers both within and without. Through Botu’s sacrifice, Mu must confront his own sin, repent, and walk forward. Truly, his journey demands bravery and perseverance. Mu’s quest from unknown, lowly orphan, powerless to help himself, to a family reunion with a king is one that will resonate with those familiar with the Truth of God’s Word!

Rwendigo Tales #2: A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue

cover of rwendigo tales book 2: a bird, a girl, and a rescue

Eleven-year-old Kiisa stars in the second Rwendigo Tales story. She begins her story at a new school, grappling with all the usual social pressures (and bullies). As Kiisa settles in, she makes friends, including a bird friend named Kjili. Kjili guides Kiisa much like Tita (the chameleon) helped Mu in the first volume. When rebels storm the school compound and kidnap girls, Kiisa must decide whether she will act on behalf of a former enemy or simply save her own skin.

As readers might expect, Kiisa sets off into the dark forest, bent on rescuing her friend. She encounters other animal friends, illegal logging operations, and more on her journey. Rescue seems unlikely, but in the end, all’s well that ends well.

Rwendigo Tales #3: A Forest, a Flood, and an Unlikely Star

cover of rwendigo tales 3: a forest, a flood, and an unlikely star

Thirteen-year-old Kusiima lives with his grandmother and his sickly sister in a small village, utterly dependent on his uncle’s generosity. In their culture, Kusiima must work to help his family survive, even though he longs to go to school. He listens in to the open windows of the school while he mans his uncle’s charcoal stand. If he could only get more money, it would help pay for his sister’s medical care and perhaps she would live!

One day, his uncle offers him the chance to earn some more money. Kusiima agrees, but he soon realizes that what his uncle has been engaged in isn’t legal. What to do? Kusiima’s animal friend is a lovable little donkey named Star; he doesn’t realize she’s his ally (or that she can communicate) until he’s in dire straits, at great risk from the illegal loggers and poachers.

By the end of the story, Kusiima has learned hard answers to hard questions, intervened on behalf of the vulnerable (both animal and human), and bravely faced what is right (including forgiveness).

Rwendigo Tales #4: A Fever, a Flight, and a Fight for the World

cover of rwendigo tales 4: a fever, a flight, and a fight for the world

A man wakes up on a deserted island. Sick, hungry, weak—he wonders how he’s managed to stay alive. A little girl appears and seems to be the source of some food and water. But she is only the messenger. Komba, a bush baby, is her animal friend, and he’s been coaching her on both how to rescue this man as well as “stranger danger” in regards to other people on the island. The man is confused, not only about a bush baby that talks, but about how he got to the island and who he is.

Together, the man and the girl (and Komba) manage to get off the island, and, as the man’s memory resurfaces, they head to a city where he hopes to find some answers (and some more clothes). To the man’s utter confusion, he uncovers treachery, an evil plot, and desperate victims.

This final volume is a terrific conclusion to the Rwendigo Tales and weaves together several strands from earlier volumes. Definitely save it for the end! It also includes more mature subject matter; see below for details. Like the rest in the series, this book points to our ultimate hope in a final restoration in the new heavens and the new earth.

Rwendigo Tales as a Whole

The best books for young readers don’t talk down to them. The Rwendigo Tales are in that rare breed of children’s books. Instead, the series casts a larger-than-life vision because this life IS larger than what we can see with our earthly eyes. Readers will see echoes of biblical truth throughout, and the magical realism element of talking animals helps keep the series kid-friendly. Reading stories set in such a thoroughly African setting is eye-opening on so many levels. Myhre’s experiences clearly inform her stories, and you will want to learn more about her work and her community. Highly recommended!


  • Death/Violence: Bad guys are bad! The villains are violent, carrying weapons and bent on their own aims, regardless of who gets in their way. Wounds and violence aren’t described in great detail, but they are clearly present. Of particular note: in volume 1, the boy shoots an animal (Botu) and kills him. This is the source of great angst for the boy and he does repent, but parents may wish to have a heads up if they’re reading this with sensitive children. Similarly, in book 2, a baby gorilla is in much danger, but he survives.
  • HIV/Aids: This is handled discreetly, but is referenced by African/colloquial names (such as “slim disease”). Your children may have questions about this disease and others (such as malaria) that are mentioned, particularly in volume 3.
  • Bio-Weapons and Bio-Hazards: Particularly in volume four, these big issues crop up. Nefarious government officials and medical personnel are involved. You will no doubt want to discuss this with your children, particularly because these sorts of issues are (sadly!) not limited to blockbuster movies, but do occur in real life.

*indicates a starred review

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Betsy Farquhar

Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Southeast.

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