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|Promising life : coming of age with America : a novel|
Author: McCully, Emily Arnold
All his life Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacagawea and a French fur-trapper, has lived in two worlds: the Westernized world of his godfather, William Clark, and the frontier world beyond St. Louis--but he is troubled by the way Americans mistreat tribes like the Osage, Arikara, and Mandan, and as a man of mixed ancestry, he must ultimately choose which of the two heritages is more important to him.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.70
Points: 12.0 Quiz: 190144
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 19.0 Quiz: 71004
Kirkus Reviews (-) (05/01/17)
School Library Journal (-) (05/01/17)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 05/01/2017 Gr 5–8—This coming-of-age tale set in an exciting historical era promises adventure but ultimately falls short. This is a fictionalized narrative about the real-life son of Sakakawea (also known as Sacagawea, who guided William Clark and Meriwether Lewis on their expedition through the Louisiana Purchase), Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, a Shoshone French Canadian boy. The novel begins with Sakakawea bringing young Baptiste to St. Louis to become the "son" of William Clark. Clark had grown fond of the boy, who was born during his famous expedition. But before Baptiste arrives in St. Louis, General Clark marries and has his own biological children. Instead of becoming Clark's son as planned, Baptiste becomes his ward. Although Clark doesn't bring Baptiste into his family, he does pay for the education Sakakawea yearned for her son to have. Baptiste is intelligent and quickly rises to the top of his class. He also faces racism, though his status as the ward of a powerful white man tempers some of his experiences. But Baptiste eventually learns that despite his intellect and excellent education, his Shoshone heritage means that he cannot vote. Later, when he travels to Europe, he is the only Native American in German royal circles. Baptiste also bears witness to the policies Clark enacts against the Osage, Arikara, and Mandan tribes. Though McCully addresses some of the injustices committed against various Native peoples, these descriptions are limited to the fictionalized perspective of Baptiste and don't resonate strongly enough. The writing is solid, but the plotting and characters are not likely to engage the average middle grade reader. VERDICT While stories about little-known Native Americans are needed, readers will find this fictionalized biography overly optimistic and ultimately dull.—Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.