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Anikwa and James, twelve years old in 1812, spend their days fishing, trapping, and exploring together in the forests of the Indiana Territory. To Anikwa and his family, members of the Miami tribe, this land has been home for centuries. As traders, James’s family has ties to the Miami community as well as to the American soldiers in the fort. Now tensions are rising—the British and American armies prepare to meet at Fort Wayne for a crucial battle, and Native Americans from surrounding tribes gather in Kekionga ...
Anikwa and James, twelve years old in 1812, spend their days fishing, trapping, and exploring together in the forests of the Indiana Territory. To Anikwa and his family, members of the Miami tribe, this land has been home for centuries. As traders, James’s family has ties to the Miami community as well as to the American soldiers in the fort. Now tensions are rising—the British and American armies prepare to meet at Fort Wayne for a crucial battle, and Native Americans from surrounding tribes gather in Kekionga to protect their homeland. After trading stops and precious commodities, like salt, are withheld, the fort comes under siege, and war ravages the land. James and Anikwa, like everyone around them, must decide where their deepest loyalties lie. Can their families—and their friendship—survive?
In Salt, Printz Honor author Helen Frost offers a compelling look at a difficult time in history.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013
A Frances Foster Book
"Printz Honor Book author Frost (Keesha’s House, 2003) has written, with artful economy, another affecting novel in verse. Interspersed among selections narrated in the alternating voices of the two boys are poems about the salt that is necessary to the survival of both peoples." Booklist, starred review
"Sensitive and smart: a poetic vista for historical insight as well as cultural awareness." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Salt is an important novel for students to read and consider as they are learning about the War of 1812 in their social studies classes. The perspective of the boys helps bring personal meaning to a period of history that can be hard for students to grasp." — VOYA
"The verse is succinct, yet beautiful, and the story is rich in historical and natural details. Fans of frontier and survival stories will find much to love within these pages." — School Library Journal
Dang mosquito bit me right where I can’t reach it.
I rub my back against a hickory tree—up and down,
side to side. There—almost got it. Might look silly,
but nobody’s watching. Except a squirrel—I hear it
up there in the branches, and I get out my slingshot.
Ma will be happy when I bring home something
for the soup pot. Where is that old squirrel, anyhow?
Sounds like a whole family of ’em, laughing at me,
and I can’t see even one. What? Not again! It’s
Anikwa, laughing as he jumps down from the tree
and lands beside me. How long has he been watching?
I swear he can sound like anything! Squirrel, bumblebee,
bluebird, or bullfrog. Once, I heard my baby sister crying,
but when I turned to look—it wasn’t Molly, it was him!
up in the tree like he thinks
there’s a real squirrel hiding somewhere
in its branches. I suck in my cheeks
to make myself stop laughing—
he shakes his head,
his stone and slingshot,
gives me a smile that means I got him
this time, but next time he’ll be watching if I
try that trick again. Come on, he motions as he heads
to the berry bushes. I’ve seen him out here picking berries
every afternoon since they started to get ripe.
Makiinkweeminiiki, I say, pretending to
put berries in my mouth and
pointing down the trail
toward the bushes.
He nods his head.
Yes, he says,
blackberries. As we walk
to the berry patch, he tries my word—
makiinkweeminiiki, and I try his—blackberries.
I roll both words around like berries
in my mouth.
Copyright © 2013 by Helen Frost
Posted August 5, 2013
Salt, Helen Frost’s latest novel in verse set during the war of 1812 in what is now Fort Wayne, Indiana, focuses readers on the community ripped apart in the clash of the Native American and National American cultures. Frost tells the story in alternating single-page poems through the voice and friendship of two twelve-year-old boys: James (poems that reflect the stripes on the American flag) and Anikwa (poems shaped like the patterns of Miami ribbon work). The son of a trader, James is often torn as he admires the presence, awareness, and skills of his Miami friend Anikwa and rejects the thoughtless, destructive ignorance of his American friend Isaac.
Author’s notes and a glossary help readers appreciate more fully the history, language and culture that converge and flow through Frost’s poetry like the three rivers of Kekionga, homeland of the Native Miami where the American soldiers built Fort Wayne. (A replica of the old fort still stands today at the junction of the St. Mary's, St. Joseph, and Maumee Rivers, and is worth walking through if you’re ever in northeast Indiana.)
Ten carefully crafted salt poems create a cadence similar to chapter breaks. These poems are especially beautiful and worth savoring on their own. The conflict that drives the novel remains a part of America’s story today, and Salt subtly calls us to recognize and acknowledge it so that we can begin to seek genuine resolution. The final poem “Now the Sugar Maple” leaves us with a sweet taste of hope rather than salt in this open wound. Frost’s poignant historical fiction is sure to leave salt streaks on the cheeks of many readers.