Blood Red Ochre

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An air of mystery surrounds Nancy, the new girl in David's class. She looks different, "foreign," and David finds her disturbingly attractive. At Nancy's insistence, they set out on a canoe trip to Red Ochre Island, a burial place of the Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland. They'll be involved in more than just a history assignment when they meet Dauoodaset, one of the last of the Beothuk. A sinister rendezvous awaits them on Red Ochre island.

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Overview

An air of mystery surrounds Nancy, the new girl in David's class. She looks different, "foreign," and David finds her disturbingly attractive. At Nancy's insistence, they set out on a canoe trip to Red Ochre Island, a burial place of the Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland. They'll be involved in more than just a history assignment when they meet Dauoodaset, one of the last of the Beothuk. A sinister rendezvous awaits them on Red Ochre island.

Living in Newfoundland, fifteen-year-old David meets a mysterious new girl named Nancy and makes a startling discovery while doing research for a school project on the Beothuck Indians.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two parallel stories unfold tragically in this outstanding novel. In the first, David, 15, learns that the disagreeable man he thought was his father is really his stepfather. In the second, David's counterpart, an Indian named Dauoodaset, strives to save his family from the ravages of hunger and disease. Set in the same part of Newfoundland some 200 years apart, the stories are strongly linked by David's fascination with the history of Dauoodaset's doomed people (and by other factors, too). Nancy, a mysteriously alluring girl in David's class, shares his interest and eventually brings the two plots together. Although the conclusion is perplexing and even a little disappointing, it forces a thoughtful reaction from readers. What happens to Nancy, and how is David changed? Both stories are affecting and skillfully written in different styles; taken together, they give the book an unexpected dimension that is as unusual as it is provocative. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-- This suspenseful and haunting but unsatisfying mystery concerns a 15-year-old boy in Newfoundland who begins research on the extinct Beothuk Indian tribe for a school report. David is unhappy at home, particularly after he discovers that his father is not his natural parent. Chapters from his own life alternate with chapters from the book he is reading on the Beothuk--a first-person narrative of Dauoodaset, one of the last of the tribe. The Indian narative is rich with detail on ritual and custom. David becomes more and more alienated from his family, and is strongly attracted to a new girl at school, Nancy, who is also researching the Beothuk. David and Nancy set off by canoe to Red Ochre Island, the site of discovery of a Beothuk skeleton. When Nancy reaches the island, she proclaims herself Dauoodaset's lost love Shanawdithit, and the next chapter is her first-person narrative. She explains the treatment Indians had suffered at the hands of the white men. When Shanawdithit is attacked by a white man, Dauoodaset is shot defending her, and David races after the fleeing girl, only to find no sign of either Indians or white men when he returns. He returns to his family with his questions unresolved. The entire book builds up to this last chapter, but David is not the only one with questions. Perhaps the Indians were just figments of his imagination and caused by the guilt he feels at having been descended from early white settlers, but Major offers no clue to support this theory. Although the book does provide good detail on Indian life and customs, there are few insights into the characters of David and Nancy. --Yvonne A. Frey, Peoria Public Library, Ill.
From the Publisher
"Suspenseful and haunting...The Indian narrative is rich with detail on ritual and custom."-School Library Journal

"Major continues to be one of our strongest and most technically innovative writers for young adults."-The Horn Book

"A powerful human drama of cultures in conflict. A major Major."-The Toronto Star

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440207306
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/7/1991
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 5 - 7 Years

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