Ghost Hawk

Ghost Hawk

Using deer sinew from his pouch, Flying Hawk deftly ties the blade of the axe into the "joined branches" of the bitternut hickory tree.  As the years go by, this will become the tomahawk of his son, newly born, Little Hawk.  Eleven years later Flying Hawk will lead his son, carrying this same tomahawk, out into the forest where he will prove his manhood by surviving alone in the woods for three months in the deep winter months.

Family, tradition, and bravery are packed into Little Hawk as he goes in search of his Manitou.  Until his own Manitou shows itself to him, he will fast.  Will he have what he needs to survive?  Will his Manitou find him worthy?  Will he carry on the family, the traditions and the bravery in his own life?

John Wakely knows the truth of what happened that day when the giant tree crashed down in the forest.  John Wakely also knows his step-father cannot abide him.  John's future lies in the home of Master Medleycott where John will apprentice and hope to one day ply the trade of cooper.

Two boys.  Two lives. Betrayal. Two boys becoming men and trying to make sense of their lives and their worlds and all around them their two worlds are colliding.

This is a many-layered story of dignity, honor, and betrayal.  It is a story of men at their best and men at their worst.  This is an eye-opening recounting of the earliest years of the American nation with all of the ugliness and egotism that can turn the best of intentions into a morass where power is claimed and perverted in the name of Godliness.

Bearing witness to a dark underbelly of American history, this story nonetheless carries shining light, the breathtaking honor of some, and above all the astounding wondrous difference one human being can choose to make.

This story is a gift to this generation.  Take a look back from the safety of your perch in today's America.  But look carefully and see if you can discover the wisdom in the authenticity of the gleaming prose and the stirring truths you rarely are offered in these "modern" times.  Perhaps Ghost Hawk still waits in the marsh after all.

Ages 10 and up     978-1442481411   328 pages

Recommended by:  Barb


"But when one little cross
Leads to shots, grit your teeth"
-- The Fixx, "One Thing Leads to Another"
"PHOENIX -- A federal judge ruled Friday that the office of America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols, marking a first finding by a court that the agency racially profiles people...
"[The plaintiffs] also accused the sheriff of ordering some immigration patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters and emails from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish."
-- Associated Press, May 24, 2013
"I put the knife in my belt.  I was ready.  I went to the baby's cradle and touched his smooth round cheek in farewell.  He gave a small sigh but he did not wake.  Someday, I thought, all this would be happening to him, too.
"We went out into the cold grey morning.  My father and I strapped on our snowshoes and put our longbows over our shoulders.  My mother kissed me on the forehead and handed my father a scarf of soft doeskin and a long deerskin strap.  I smiled at her, and at Quickbird's anxious face, and they were the last things I saw before my father bound the scarf across my eyes, tying it securely behind my head.  Then he put one end of the strap into my hand; this was how he would lead me into the forest.
"'You will come back a man,' he said."
After three moons on his own, having survived the winter storms and a near-deadly encounter with a wolf, Little Hawk successfully returns home to find that home is gone.  Virtually his entire village has succumbed to a virus that has arrived by way of trading with the white men from across the ocean who have landed in what, one day, will become Massachusetts.  The arrival of these white men from across the sea will become the ever-present focus of his people's future. 
"Quickbird waved.  Turtledove and Little Fox and the boy were playing cup and ball.  He seemed to know it already; perhaps all children everywhere play the same games. 
"Quickbird looked down at them.  'Look how different they are!' she said.  'The same, but so different.'"
In the wake of moving to a new settlement with survivors from other nearby villages, Little Hawk will cross paths with a ten year-old British transplant, John Wakely.  Little Hawk's kindness toward this blue-eyed Pilgrim child during their brief and chance first encounter will forever direct the arc of John Wakely's life and define his outlook about this New World, a place where so many of those who escaped religious persecution in the Old World.are so eager to forcefully impose their own religious zealotry upon everyone in their midst.
It will be the reverberations resulting from Little Hawk's and John Wakely's meeting, the manner in which one small thing leads to another, that makes GHOST HAWK such a powerful story and transforms it from being merely a great piece of historical fiction to being an extraordinary piece of historical fiction, one that is so relevant today, given the blind fears and suspicions that far too many in America continue to harbor toward Latinos and Muslims and African Americans and anyone else who may look different or speak a different language or pray differently or listen to weird music.
There will be plenty of young readers of GHOST HAWK who will readily recognize the parallels between the shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later attitude of the colonists, the racial profiling of Joe Arpaio & company, and the readiness by far too many Americans to see a godless terrorist lurking beneath every head scarf.  
Here in California, American history is a part of the fifth and eighth grade curriculums.  A treasure of a read, GHOST HAWK is also going to be a powerful addition to the lists of trade books to supplement the curriculum.

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA

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