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Malian's Song

Overview

Young Malian lives contentedly with her parents and extended family in an Abenaki village near Montréal in the mid-eighteenth century. One night, Malian’s life changes abruptly. Silently, her father carries her off to the woods, blanket and all, and orders her to run to their tribe’s winter camp. Malian obeys, but not before she turns to watch her father slip back to the village through the trees. She never sees him again.

Malian’s Song is based on the true story of a deliberate...

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Overview

Young Malian lives contentedly with her parents and extended family in an Abenaki village near Montréal in the mid-eighteenth century. One night, Malian’s life changes abruptly. Silently, her father carries her off to the woods, blanket and all, and orders her to run to their tribe’s winter camp. Malian obeys, but not before she turns to watch her father slip back to the village through the trees. She never sees him again.

Malian’s Song is based on the true story of a deliberate attack by English Major Robert Rogers on Québec’s St. Francis Abenaki community in 1759. Malian's account of “Rogers's Raid,” passed down through generations of Abenaki oral tradition, reveals that many Abenaki people survived the attack that destroyed their village, in direct contrast to Rogers’ journal accounts. Jeanne Brink, a descendant of Malian living in Vermont, told the Vermont Folklife Center the little-known Abenaki version of the brutal attack. In this first Abenaki and English picture book, preeminent Abenaki historian Marge Bruchac and illustrator William Maughan portray Malian’s story of a people's strength and fortitude in the face of unspeakable loss.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by the true story of the 1759 English attack on the St Francis Abenaki community, Malian's Song by Marge Bruchac, illus. by William Maughan, describes the event from young Malian's point of view. At the village Friendship Dance, a scout for "the White Devil" warns Malian's cousin that the "strangers" would come at dawn to burn down their homes. Many got away thanks to the scout's warning, but more than 32 died. An endnote lays out the facts in detail, and Malian demonstrates the power of story in keeping alive the memory of the fallen. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
An Abenaki legend is based on an actual raid on their community by British Major Robert Rogers in 1759. Rogers' journal records the story quite differently. Bruchac retells the tale from the point of view of young Malian. Her village is preparing for a big feast. But during the night, as the dancing in the Council House has begun, Malian awakes to the smell of smoke. Her father tells her to run. When she joins the others, she finds that an attack has been planned on the village. Warned, the people have left the Council House. They watch as the houses and even the church are set on fire. People have died, their food for the winter is gone, and so is her father. Malian vows to remember and pass the story on to her children. Maughan paints his full-page scenes like stage sets for the most dramatic moments of this history, from Malian's life before the tragedy, to her father running off to fight with musket in hand, to the women and children watching the fires in the night. The characters are all individuals who seem to possess the inner strength we associate with Native Americans. An extensive note fills in the factual details and brings the story up to date, with a bibliography. A fascinating contrast between the native legend and the more familiar history.
School Library Journal

Gr 2–4
This story, based on an English attack on the Abenaki in 1759, is notable for relating a lesser-known piece of history passed down through oral storytelling. Before the raid, Malian lives a happy life with her family. All that is destroyed when the English set fire to the entire village and her father is killed. Grief stricken, the girl makes a Lonesome Song. Eventually, the people rebuild, but vow never to forget. The art captures the details of the child's life, including homes, dress, and daily experiences. An afterword describes the event and how it was passed along and "discovered" nearly 200 years later. The story is told by Malian, with the text appearing in boxes over the full-page illustrations. The colors are muted, creating a feeling of reflection. Although the book relates a devastating experience, many of the scenes are peaceful, and the use of the past tense distances readers from the violence. Recommend this to history or English teachers for use in oral-history units.
—Cris RiedelCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Folding Abenaki words and expressions into her narrative, Bruchac (scholar, storyteller and sister of the prolific Joseph) retells a child's experience of the 1759 raid by Rogers' Rangers on the Abenaki community of St. Francis. Weary from having helped prepare for a wedding feast, young Malian is snatched from her bed and hustled to safety by her beloved father, Simon Obomsawin. That is the last that she ever sees of him. Hiding with others, she watches her village burn and then learns that her cousin, Maliazonis, had received a warning from a scout that the raid was impending. Malian describes how, after a hard winter, the survivors went on with their lives, and in later years she passed her memories on to the next generation. This view of the attack, which includes details never or inaccurately reported by Rogers and other contemporaries, remained in the oral tradition until 1959; with able assistance from Maughan's carefully detailed, nonviolent scenes, it receives a strong, evocative rendition for young readers here. (bibliography, afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

MARGE BRUCHAC, Abenaki, is a traditional storyteller and historical consultant to New England museums. Also a professor of Native American Studies, she holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts. She has received three awards from the National Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. WILLIAM MAUGHAN is the illustrator of Spirit of Endurance: The True Story of the Shackleton Expedition to the Antarctic by Jennifer Armstrong (2000) and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron by David Clement-Davies (2002), and is the author of The Artist’s Complete Guide to Drawing the Head. He lives in Napa, California.
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