Narrated by Isaac, a Choctaw boy who was killed while walking the Trail of Tears in 1830, this quick-paced novel sheds light on forgotten histories.
A follow-up to the award-winning novel How I Became a Ghost (2013), Tingle’s imaginative tale of shape-shifting humans and time-traveling ghosts is the perfect adventure for young readers who wish to consider American history from the Indigenous perspective. Even as it recounts the story of the Choctaw people who were removed from their Mississippi homelands in the era of Andrew Jackson, the novel also bears witness to a complicated Choctaw hero by the name of Pushmataha, a United States Army general who fought against the British in the Battle of New Orleans. Though ultimately betrayed by the U.S. president he considered a friend, Pushmataha inspires his young Choctaw friends to literally bury the hatchet and seek peace with their American counterparts—episodes witnessed by Isaac and his dog friend, Jumper. While the novel addresses injustices head on, it does not delve into Pushmataha’s regrets regarding intertribal politics, making it a good introduction for young readers. The novel is filled with friendship, laughter, and Choctaw jokes, a stylistic flourish that lends levity to its difficult topics.
A great introduction to Native American history that’s not too heavy for its young audience and is a solid read in its own right. (map, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14)