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Sacajawea
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About the Author

JOSEPH BRUCHAC is a poet, storyteller, and author of more than sixty books for children and adults who has received many literary honors, including the American Book Award and the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. He is of Abenaki and Slovak heritage, and lives in Greenfield Center, New York.

Reviews

Gr 6 Up-This intelligent, elegantly written novel weaves Sacajawea's recollections of the Lewis and Clark expedition with those of William Clark, the American captain who developed a deeply spiritual bond with her and became a surrogate uncle to her son. Beyond recounting the thrills and hardships of the legendary two-year mission, the alternating first-person narratives show the respect that develops between the young "Bird Woman" and the Corps of Discovery. Sacajawea begins her chapters with excerpts from Native American folktale, providing insight into her religious and cultural upbringing and its impact on her interpretation of events. Clark begins his with entries mostly from his journal, underscoring his keen awareness of the importance of the expedition and his desire to record even its most mundane details. Balancing the eyewitness accounts of these two people is not just a clever literary device. Clark's account is crucial to supplying information about Sacajawea that she herself cannot provide. Her narrative is devoid of self-praise and self-promotion; they would be unnatural impulses for a Shoshone female. So Bruchac uses Clark to chronicle Sacajawea's extraordinary bravery and endurance, and his voice repeats what she cannot even attempt to mention: that the mission would have been a certain failure without her. This is an engaging book to share with young adults, who will find it all the more fascinating to learn that Sacajawea was a teenager when she made history with Lewis and Clark.-William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

[star] "An engaging book to share with young adults, who will find it all the more fascinating to learn that Sacajawea was a teenager when she made history with Lewis and Clark."--School Library Journal (starred)"A grand adventure and an inspiration that is not to be missed."--Kirkus Reviews

Bruchac's (The Arrow Over the Door) intimate novel about Lewis and Clark's epic Western exploration unfolds through the alternating voices of Sacajawea, their Shoshone interpreter, and Clark. Sacajawea's now-grown son, Pomp (Jean Baptiste Charbonneau), introduces the two narrators, explaining that Shoshone custom dictates that "one can tell only what they have seen"; since he was not yet born at the beginning of the adventure, he recounts the tale as it was told to him. Sacajawea's chapter follows, opening with a creation tale of the "great flood"--each of her chapters begins with either Shoshone tales or those of other tribes the crew encounters, and many function as cautionary fables; relevant journal entries introduce Clark's chapters. This framing device results in a few contrived references in the narrative (e.g., "The fur trade, Pomp, can make a brave man rich or cost him his life," says Clark), and the assumption that Pomp already knows the story occasionally diminishes the suspense. But Bruchac builds the alternating chapters chronologically and keeps the pace moving. Both narrators recount intriguing cultural nuances; for example, when a deserter from the expedition is recovered, the Otoes Indians plead the white man's case, arguing that it would be better to kill him than humiliate him with a public whipping. The greatest strength of the novel, however, is Sacajawea's voice, enhanced by the lyrical repetition of traditional storytelling ("It was the Moon when the Leaves Fall from the Cottonwoods," she recalls of the day she first sees Lewis and Clark). The author adheres closely to journals kept by members of the expedition, creating characters who are both lifelike and compelling, at a fascinating juncture in history. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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