GROUNDHOG'S HORSE by Joyce Rockwood


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Rockwood's third novel of Cherokee life, this simpler, younger story has the same combination of anthropologically accurate framework and accessibly human characters. While many stories of Indian youth make even children seem stiff and sober, these are just kids--even the warriors who, though brave and ambitious as any, declare that it's simply not worth bothering to raid the distant Creek Rabbit-town merely to retrieve Groundhog's horse Midnight, the only one stolen on a raid by two Creek warriors. But Midnight is unusual--not an especially fast runner, just unusual, Groundhog insists--and so the boy, though not yet a warrior himself, sneaks from his house at night and goes off to Rabbit-town for Midnight. Three Cherokee warriors from another settlement give him a canoe lift most of the way, but the return trip--with Midnight and little Duck, a captured/adopted Cherokee who takes Groundhog's quick snitch as a chance to sneak off--is drawn out, and made fearful by remembered stories of the giant monsters the boys believe to be lying in wait in the mountains. Through several days of hunger and uncertainty it is Midnight who leads the way, proving to Groundhog's satisfaction that he is unusual indeed. Back home a war-painted Groundhog celebrates his victory but resists a hero's welcome, pointing out that the project just went well ""by accident"" because of Duck's, Midnight's, and other help--and it's this kind of attitude throughout that makes him easy to relate to.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1978
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston