A white boy and a Native American youth form an enduring bond in this historical fantasy set in 17th-century Massachusetts.
Eleven-year-old Little Hawk survives the Pokanoket tribe’s “proving time” alone in the winter woods for three months only to discover his village devastated by a plague transmitted by encroaching white settlers. Later, Little Hawk’s killed by a paranoid white settler while trying to help the injured father of a white boy named John Wakeley. Upset by the injustice of Little Hawk’s murder, John’s sent by his stern Puritan stepfather on a seven-year apprenticeship north of Plymouth. Here, John encounters Little Hawk’s ghost, who becomes his confidant and friend. Gradually, John becomes an outspoken advocate for native people, challenging the bigoted, intolerant Puritans and eventually joining separatist Roger Williams in Providence Plantation. Narrator Little Hawk describes his brief life as a Pokanoket youth and continues as ghost observer with the story of John Wakeley and the increasing unrest between settlers and local tribes. Cooper’s thorough historical research provides authentic period detail, contrasting the attitudes and lifestyles of settlers and native people.
This sensitive portrayal of an unusual friendship poignantly reveals how greed and intolerance led to Native American displacement in colonial Massachusetts. (map, timeline, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)