GREAT DEATH by John Smelcer


Age Range: 11 & up
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All of the world is dying. The dead lie everywhere, the dying consigned to brushing away flies and awaiting their own time. Dogs feast upon corpses, magpies and ravens pick at them and bears are getting bold. But 13-year-old Millie and her ten-year-old sister Maura are spared by the disease left by the mysterious white strangers. With a prose style by turns informative, poetic and graphic, Smelcer tells of the sisters’ journey away from their Alaskan village, a story of strength and courage as they face dangerous waters, wolves, moose, blizzards and a hairy-faced giant. The prologue describes the pandemic of measles, smallpox and influenza that killed two-thirds of all Alaska Natives at the beginning of the 20th century. Parallel and sometimes intersecting is the tale of Raven, the trickster who comes to help people in need, but no backmatter is offered to provide the cultural context of the traditional story. Otherwise, an engaging tale of survival. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8100-8
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2009


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