An engrossing historical novel of Chickasaw life by a member of that nation.

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A Chickasaw teenager fights a rival tribe after his father’s death and finds his own place in the community.

In this debut middle-grade novel—set in the early 18th century—Chula is a Chickasaw teen busy with perfecting his hunting skills and facing the local bully until his father is killed by Choctaw raiders. Chula’s grief turns into a desire for revenge, and he is determined to be among the fighters who attack the Choctaws in retribution. After celebrating the annual Green Corn Ceremony, Chula earns his place in the raiding party. A Chickasaw warrior tells him: “You have proven yourself as a hunter and on the toli field. You have been an honorable brother, son, and nephew in your family. You will learn self-control with time, starting with this raid.” But Chula discovers that taking a life is harder than he imagined. He returns to his village to find that he is better suited to a different but equally crucial role in the tribe. The novel’s historical aspects are fully researched, and Perry has a keen eye for the specifics that make Chula’s world vivid to readers: “The decoys were made from the skin of a deer head and neck that was stretched over lightweight cane hoops. They were so life-like they not only fooled the deer, they sometimes fooled other hunters, which meant we had to be even more aware of our surroundings.” The dialogue is sometimes overwrought (“ ‘I am not a boy! Not anymore,’ I said bitterly. ‘And I will give Aki’s spirit rest’ ”). But the author tells a well-plotted story rooted firmly in the 18th-century Chickasaw experience, full of genuine details (a fishing scene is particularly engaging) and written from an insider’s perspective (Perry is Chickasaw, and the work’s publisher is affiliated with the Chickasaw Nation). The detailed line drawings by debut illustrator Freeland portray the practices described in the tale, adding to the book’s cultural authenticity. Although Chula’s sorrow is profound, it does not overtake the narrative, and he and the other characters are fully realized. The solid volume fulfills its educational mission and serves as an enjoyable story, holding the audience’s attention while conveying information and depicting a world often presented from the perspective of outsiders. A helpful glossary defines the Chickasaw words used in the text.

An engrossing historical novel of Chickasaw life by a member of that nation.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-935684-61-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: White Dog Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019


In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000



Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028454-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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