Ghost Hawk

Ghost Hawk

4.8 8
by Susan Cooper
     
 

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From Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, a story of adventure and friendship between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler.

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can take only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and the amazing metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk

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Overview

From Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, a story of adventure and friendship between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler.

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can take only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and the amazing metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.

John Wakely is only ten when his father dies, but he has already experienced the warmth and friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren’t as accepting of the native people. When he is apprenticed to a barrel-maker, John sees how quickly the relationships between settlers and natives are deteriorating. His friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

The intertwining stories of Little Hawk and John Wakely are a fascinating tale of friendship and an eye-opening look at the history of our nation. Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper also includes a timeline and an author’s note that discusses the historical context of this important and moving novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Philip Pullman
Ghost Hawk is the work of a writer with great imaginative power and long-practiced narrative skill. I was swept up in the story, shocked, moved, and enthralled - and completely convinced by the historical background. I haven't read anything better for a long time."
BCCB
"Rich period detail makes for an immersive experience."
Publishers Weekly
In this well-researched and elegant historical fantasy, a Wampanoag boy named Little Hawk survives the loss of his village to a plague contracted from the Pilgrims, who have recently founded Plymouth. Later he befriends a white boy, John Wakeley, only to have a shocking act of violence irrevocably alter their lives. As the years pass, John grows to manhood, learns a trade, marries, and avoids the Pilgrims’ bigotry, drawn to the more tolerant principles of Roger Williams, founder of the colony of Providence. Despite its occasional violence, much of veteran fantasist Cooper’s story is understated, devoted to what is essentially philosophical discussion and a vivid depiction of the Massachusetts wilderness. Although the tale unfolds almost entirely in English, Cooper impressively conveys the barriers, both cultural and linguistic, that divided natives and settlers, sometimes with horrifying results. Both Little Hawk and John maintain their essential decency in the face of the world’s injustice, while Cooper demonstrates, as Little Hawk says, “Change is made by the voice of one person at a time.” Ages 10–14. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Karen Cushman
"Ghost Hawk is a treasure.... Beautifully written, vivid with its manifest love for the land, it is a story of suffering and survival, both tragic and heroic."
starred review Booklist
* "Cooper has written a richly plotted, lyrical, and near-epic novel...this is simply an unforgettable reading experience."
The Horn Book
"Cooper here demonstrates that there’s plenty of magic left in her pen, delivering a powerful and memorable novel."
William Alexander
"Susan Cooper has asked the ghosts of our shared history to sing. And when she asks, they always do."
Children's Literature - Magi Evans
On the eastern coast of seventeenth-century America, eleven-year-old Little Hawk is led into the woods far from his family's village and left alone for three months. If he survives, he will return a man. Little Hawk's first person narrative takes readers with him on this harrowing physical and spiritual journey, and then back to his village, where he finds that only his grandmother and his best friend have survived the white man's plague. Slowly they connect with the survivors in other villages, and together they make a new community. Fear of the English settlers does not keep Little Hawk from becoming friendly with them, and a few years later, on a trip to another village, Little Hawk stops to help an Englishman trapped under the branch of a fallen tree. Unfortunately a hostile Englishman misinterprets Little Hawk's help as an attack, and Little Hawk is killed. Now Little Hawk's ghost takes up the narrative, and tells the story of John Wakely, a cooper's apprentice who for some reason is able to see and speak with Little Hawk's ghost. John also believes in friendship between the English and the natives, and takes counsel from Little Hawk's ghost, even learning the native language. But in the atmosphere of intolerance and strict adherence to principle exhibited by the Plymouth inhabitants, John's beliefs are dangerous. At odds with the Plymouth community, John leaves to set up his own household in New Providence, the village founded by Roger Williams when he too, was banished from Plymouth for his liberal ideas. Little Hawk then describes the inevitable war between the English and the natives, and a final encounter with Little Hawk's ghost in modern times completes the narrative. Cooper's blend of historical and fantasy fiction is thought-provoking and challenging, paving the way for discussion of issues still being dealt with today. Besides being an exciting read, Ghost Hawk would be an outstanding choice for language arts literature circles. Reviewer: Magi Evans
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 6–9—Cooper takes a departure from her well-known fantasies to present a thoughtful historical fantasy. The story begins around 1620, when Little Hawk is nearing proving time to become a man in his Wampanoag tribe. One winter's morning, he is sent out into the woods alone, armed only with a bow and arrows, a tomahawk, and a knife. He must try to survive for three moons before returning to his family. When he does, he is devastated to find that everyone except his grandmother has died of smallpox. He, along with his grandmother and one of his friends, finds shelter with another tribe, and as they settle in he has his first encounter with local Pilgrims. Little Hawk begins a friendship with a white boy named John Wakely that will change both of their lives forever. After Little Hawk is killed, his ghost helps John navigate their different cultures and language, while the world around them changes and tensions between the Natives and the settlers grow. While this is a beautifully written story, it is a bit slow-moving and not wholly accessible to its target audience. Little Hawk and John begin the story as children, but they eventually grow up, and the book spans approximately 50 years, even touching into modern times. Young readers may have difficulty following all of the history.—Necia Blundy, formerly at Marlborough Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A white boy and a Native American youth form an enduring bond in this historical fantasy set in 17th-century Massachusetts. Eleven-year-old Little Hawk survives the Pokanoket tribe's "proving time" alone in the winter woods for three months only to discover his village devastated by a plague transmitted by encroaching white settlers. Later, Little Hawk's killed by a paranoid white settler while trying to help the injured father of a white boy named John Wakeley. Upset by the injustice of Little Hawk's murder, John's sent by his stern Puritan stepfather on a seven-year apprenticeship north of Plymouth. Here, John encounters Little Hawk's ghost, who becomes his confidant and friend. Gradually, John becomes an outspoken advocate for native people, challenging the bigoted, intolerant Puritans and eventually joining separatist Roger Williams in Providence Plantation. Narrator Little Hawk describes his brief life as a Pokanoket youth and continues as ghost observer with the story of John Wakeley and the increasing unrest between settlers and local tribes. Cooper's thorough historical research provides authentic period detail, contrasting the attitudes and lifestyles of settlers and native people. This sensitive portrayal of an unusual friendship poignantly reveals how greed and intolerance led to Native American displacement in colonial Massachusetts. (map, timeline, author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442481428
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
08/26/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
177,106
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Ghost Hawk


  • He had left his canoe in the river, tied to a branch of a low-growing cherry tree. Now there was green marshland ahead of him, all round the river’s last slow curve. He pushed his way through waist-high grass toward one of the three high places in the marshland, where trees grew. They were islands of trees, never visited; the duck hunters went only to the marsh. He had chosen this place months ago, and now was the day to come back.

    In a squawking flurry two ducks erupted ahead of him, flying low, but his bow stayed on his back; he would not hunt till later, on the way home. He reached the trees—a tangle of pin oak and cherry, sumac and hickory, juniper and birch—and threaded his way through the grabbing branches to the two rocks that marked the tree he had chosen. There it still was, beside the rocks, still the proper shape: the small bitternut hickory tree with its twin leading stems growing in a slender V.

    He gave the tree a respectful greeting, and explained what he was about to do.

    The woven birch-bark pouch was heavy round his neck. He took out the stone blade, a long, notched rectangle of flint with one edge chipped to a fine sharpness. This blade had belonged to the tomahawk used by his father and his grandfather, until its handle broke; nobody knew where it had come from or when it was made. It was very precious to him.

    Carefully he fitted the blade into the cleft between the tree’s two slim branches, twisting them together above it. Then, with tough strands of deer sinew from his pouch, he bound the joined branches tightly above the stone—so tightly that they would grow together as the years went by, enclosing the blade.

    To make a tomahawk for your son, you needed the stone blade, and the wooden shaft, and time.

    In my father’s day, there was still time.

    When he’d finished his binding, he thanked the small tree, and gave it good wishes to grow straight and strong.

    Then he went back across the marshland to his canoe. On the way he shot three ducks, for the feast celebrating the arrival of the baby son who had been born early that day.

    I was that son. Because Flying Hawk was my father, the name they were giving me was Little Hawk.

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