From the Hidden Mysteries series , Vol. 3

In 1877 the 4th U.S. Cavalry was ordered to annihilate the Indian problem in Texas.

As Ndé/Lipan Apache protagonist Casita and her mother discuss her Changing Woman ceremony, the cavalry attacks her village, massacring most, including Casita’s mother. Taken with her younger brother and other survivors to Fort Clark, Casita hides how she has learned English while traveling with her father until a white Quaker nurse, Mollie Smith, earns her trust. Considered prisoners of war by the Army, the children live with the nurse and her lieutenant husband as servants. Jack is delighted to train the soldiers’ horses and pleased to be called their “mascot.” After three years at the fort, the children are all transferred to the Carlisle Indian School. While there, Jack excels and later is adopted by one of the white teachers, but Casita remains and, with her Apache girlfriends, defiantly re-enacts the Ndé Changing Woman ceremony to honor lost traditions. Though evidently approved by two Native elders—a relative of the real-life Casita supplies an afterword—much of MacColl’s book is problematic for today’s readers. Jack’s pleasure at being named mascot feels very out of touch with current campaigns to eliminate Indian mascots, and calling the Changing Woman deity a “goddess” forces Ndé cosmology into Western structures. Furthermore, perhaps out of an overabundance of sensitivity to middle-grade readers, MacColl downplays the Carlisle School experience, a well-documented historic trauma.

Misses the cultural mark. (author’s note, photos, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62979-742-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...


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Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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