Little Brother of War

Overview

Sixteen-year-old Mississippi Choctaw Randy Cheska has lived most of his young life in the shadow of his older football-hero brother, Jack. After Jack is killed while serving in Iraq, Randy's father puts even more pressure on Randy to excel in football. But Randy has no interest in sports and has never been good at them. Imagine Randy's surprise when he discovers stickball, a game he's immediately drawn to. But stickball is a sport Randy's father considers a relic of the Choctaw past, when it was known as Little ...

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Little Brother of War

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Overview

Sixteen-year-old Mississippi Choctaw Randy Cheska has lived most of his young life in the shadow of his older football-hero brother, Jack. After Jack is killed while serving in Iraq, Randy's father puts even more pressure on Randy to excel in football. But Randy has no interest in sports and has never been good at them. Imagine Randy's surprise when he discovers stickball, a game he's immediately drawn to. But stickball is a sport Randy's father considers a relic of the Choctaw past, when it was known as Little Brother of War and was used to settle disputes between communities. Randy's determination to play this legendary game, guided by a mysterious visitor, leads him on a challenging and unexpected journey of self-discovery.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/12/2013
The tension between respecting Choctaw tradition and embracing change are at the heart of Robinson’s strong addition to the PathFinders series about Native American teens, written by Native authors. Randy is pressured to pursue high school sports, like his father and recently deceased war-hero brother before him. But the 16-year-old discovers that he loves—and has a talent for—Choctaw stickball or toli, an ancient game similar to lacrosse that isn’t a school sport and that his father thinks is a relic. Written at a fourth-grade reading level, the story captures the believable friction in Randy’s family and introduces a bit of American culture that will be new to many readers. Simultaneously available: Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner by Tim Tingle. Ages 12–16. (Aug.)
Booklist
"There is strength in the depiction of a young man finding his way by looking to his roots, and Robinson powerfully captures the exhilaration of knowing exactly where one belongs."
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Sixteen-year-old Randy Cheska is under a great deal of pressure. Born into a proud Mississippi Choctaw family, Randy is about to begin attending the local high school his older brother attended before him. The brother was a well-known local football hero who led the team to a state championship before volunteering to serve in the army, which led to his tragic death in Iraq. Now, both the boys' father and the school principal desperately want Randy to follow in his brother's steps. Randy is uninterested in sports, however, and conflict results. In a strange and perhaps supernatural turn of events, Randy stumbles on the Native American sport of stickball, an activity very much like lacrosse. Surprising himself, Randy discovers that not only does he enjoy this newfound sport but also excels at it. With the support of his mother, Randy overcomes his father's opposition to traditional Native American pastimes and joins the local tribal stickball team. Playing this traditional Choctaw game, Randy discovers things he otherwise might never have known about himself, his people, his family, his relationship with his father, and the connectedness of life. Written with respect for the spirituality and customs of Native Americans, this is a very readable coming-of-age story. Due to the brevity of the book, some characters are presented as more shadows than believable figures, but the narrative does move quickly and engage readers. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
Kirkus Reviews
A traditional game provides a way for a Mississippi Choctaw teen to step out of the shadows of his sports-hero older brother and dad. It's been a year since the death of big brother Jack in Iraq, and Randy is entering Choctaw Central High under heavy pressure from his angry, grieving father to follow family tradition by signing up for football, baseball or some other "American" sport. But Randy has neither interest in nor aptitude for athletics…until he picks up a pair of playing sticks (kapoca) at a community center and discovers that he's such a natural at the lacrosselike Choctaw game of toli that soon he's invited by the coach to join an adult team playing in the World Series of Stickball at the upcoming Choctaw Fair. Tellingly, not only is that sport not played at Choctaw Central, but Randy's father rejects his son's choice, insisting that those outdated traditional pursuits have no place in the modern world. Though there is some feeling here for the game's rough play, Robinson, himself of Cherokee and Choctaw descent, focuses more on the clash of values than on-field sports action. Ultimately, the author injects his protagonist with jolts of self-confidence as well as real interest in his culture on the way to bringing both Randy's school and his father around to a more inclusive attitude. This worthy tale is definitely agenda-driven, but the cultural and historical information is laid onto the story with a light hand. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781939053022
  • Publisher: 7th Generation
  • Publication date: 8/1/2013
  • Pages: 113
  • Sales rank: 1,401,759
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Robinson, a writer and filmmaker of Cherokee and Choctaw descent, has spent twenty-five years working with American Indian communities to tell the stories of Native people. His previous works include From Warriors to Soldiers, which examines American Indians in the US military from the Revolutionary War to modern times, and The Language of Victory, the story of the American Indian code talkers of World War I and World War II. Robinson currently lives in the central California coast region.

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