TOUGHBOY AND SISTER by Kirkpatrick Hill


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In Hill's simply told, well-crafted story, two Athabascan Indian children, stranded for the summer at a camp down a remote branch of the Yukon, learn to fend for themselves. After their mother dies in childbirth, 11-year-old Toughboy and his younger sister Annie Laurie worry that they'll be split up, but their alcoholic father stoutly defends his ability to care for them; to preserve a semblance of normaley, he takes them on their annual camping trip. No sooner do they arrive, however, than he drinks himself to death; stunned, the children watch corpse and boat float away down the river. Expecting rescue, Toughboy and ""Sister"" feed themselves and gather firewood, but as days pass into weeks, they're forced to cook, fish, make bread, and to keep their clothes and cabin clean. The two work well together and Hill repeatedly affirms their resourcefulness by having them overcome challenges--including an attacking bear. At summer's end, an adult finally comes: wise old Natasha, who promises them a new home and a happier future. Sure to satisfy survival-story fans, though it doesn't match either the level of privation or the depth of cultural insight found in Julie of the Wolves or James Houston's stories.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1990
ISBN: 068950506X
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/Macmillan