In the early 1600s in North America, Little Hawk undergoes his Wampanoag tribe’s rite of passage into manhood by entering the wilderness on a three-month solitary survival mission. He returns home to find a lone survivor in his village, the others having succumbed to a disease transmitted through trade with white men who had arrived on ships. As Little Hawk and the survivors of other villages band together, they experience threats from some Pilgrims who detest the “savages,” even while other moderate Pilgrims call for tolerance and the acceptance of all people.
This informative, often disturbing, juvenile novel attempts to present a balanced picture of a clash of cultures in which Pilgrims contributed to injustice and hardship for Indigenous peoples, even as tribes at times stoked fires of war amongst themselves and against white people, whether they were tolerant or not.
The author explores both Native and Christian spirituality. Some young readers might benefit from having a parent or teacher share this reading experience in order to discuss themes of spirituality and justice within a biblical framework. Ages 10 and up. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)