Sees Behind Treesby Michael Dorris
A Native American boy with a special gift to "see" beyond his poor eyesight journeys with an old warrior to a land of mystery and beauty.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyDorris's (Morning Girl) eloquent, beautifully crafted coming-of-age tale centers on Walnut, a near-sighted Native American boy whose uncanny ability to use his other senses earns him the adult name Sees Behind Trees. Set in the distant, pre-colonial past, the story finds the boy moving hesitantly into adulthoodgradually gaining confidence in himself and his perceptions; learning humility when he prizes his talents too highly; earning the respect of his tribe when he escorts an elderly wise man on a dangerous journey. Both sharply and lyrically observed, fraught with emotion, the first-person narrative should connect strongly with a young audience, who will quickly learn that, no matter the century or the culture, the fundamentals of growing up remain very much the same. The authenticity of the characterizations and setting will ease readers toward acceptance of the quasi-mystical adventure that crowns the story. It's a thrilling read, with the pleasures compounding at every turn of the page. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue PreissnerSet in the 16th century, this is a steadily-paced story with wonderful character development. It is now time for Walnut, along with the other boys of the tribe, to earn their adult names. For Walnut this may be a difficult task as he cannot see as well as the others. However, with the help of his mother, Walnut has developed his other senses and, during the naming contest, earns his adult name of Sees Behind Trees. While struggling with this new identity as an adult, he befriends the elder Gray Fire, and they embark on a journey to find the elusive land of waters. This trip becomes a test of his manhood and endurance, and he learns to turn his handicap into an advantage.
Children's Literature - Susie WildeWalnut, a fifteenth century Powhatan Indian, dreads the warrior's test to prove his manhood because of his limited vision. It is his other, extremely acute senses of hearing, smelling and intuition that earn him the name Sees Behind Trees. Once he receives this great name and acknowledgement, he wonders how his name fits him. This leads him, finally, on a grand adventure where discovers a miraculous land of water, and goes through losses that transform him from boy to man. Dorris' portrayal of the humor, warmth, and wisdom through experience of Native American life vividly shows a different era and way of being.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 4-8This compelling coming-of-age story set in pre-Columbian America is rich in imagery and chock-full of wisdom. The novel begins as Walnut, a bright and earnest, but seriously myopic boy realizes that, try as he might, he will never master the skills he needs to become a competent hunter. His mother, who is responsible for his training, takes a different tack and encourages him to "look with his ears." The boy hones his unusual talent so well that he earns the right to his grown-up name. Because of his ability to "to see what can't be seen," he is given special status within the tribe and is selected to accompany Gray Fire, a respected village elder, on a pilgrimage to find the land of water, a place that has eluded the old man since his youth. Much of the book deals with their journey, during which Sees Behind Trees learns a great deal from Gray Fire about the nature of dreams and gains some valuable self-knowledge in the process. The young man encounters "strangers" for the first time, is tested physically and spiritually, and ultimately proves himself a man by finding his way home. There's a timeless quality to this 15th-century adventure that will be meaningful and immediate for young people today. Dorris takes on some meaty existential issues here; he does so with grace, bighearted empathy, and always with crystal-clear vision.Luann Toth, School Library Journal
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.25(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.25(d)
- Age Range:
- 9 Years
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