Author: Smelcer, John E.
As their Alaskan village's only survivors of sickness brought by white men one winter early in the twentieth century, sisters Millie, aged 13, and Maura, 10, make their way south in hopes of finding someone alive.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 6.10
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 133411
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 7.30
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 48090
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Range of Reading & LEvel of Text Complexity
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (08/01/09)
School Library Journal (11/01/09)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (10/09)
The Hornbook (11/09)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 07/01/2009 In 1917, two Native Alaskan girls watch their entire village die after being infected by a horrible disease brought by white settlers. With no one and nothing left in their village, sisters Maura and Millie set out along the river to find another settlement in hopes of rejoining civilization. Their journey is plagued by tragedy: their canoe is destroyed, the two dogs that join and bravely defend them die, a white man welcomes them into his cabin and then tries to rape Millie, and as the winter deepens, they come perilously close to death by exposure. This is a survival story, but the omniscient third-person narration removes much of the immediacy of the girls’ experience while weaving in details of daily life. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a tale about Raven, a trickster who rarely uses his powers to help people, and whom the girls recognize as a presence in their lives. This grim tale of the sisters’ struggle against the elements will leave readers wanting to know more about this little-known time in history. - Copyright 2009 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 10/01/2009 When European disease hits their Alaskan settlement, thirteen-year-old Millie and her ten-year-old sister, Maura, watch in horror as everyone around them, family and friends, sickens and dies. Knowing they have to find a human settlement, they head downriver as the freeze deepens, hoping to find survivors and trying desperately to survive themselves. This classic survival story recalls Kirkpatrick Hill’s Toughboy and Sister (BCCB 11/90) even more than O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins (BCCB 4/60); Smelcer (author of the similarly set The Trap, BCCB 10/06) is a dab hand at the key blend of good fortune and bad fortune, the rhythm of achievement and setback, that powers such a tale. The foreword explains the chilling historical background of the work-the lethal epidemic that wiped out a huge percentage of Alaskan Natives at the beginning of the twentieth century-which inflects the girls’ already dramatic journey with searing worry (“Is everyone dead everywhere?” asks Maura desperately, after reaching yet another now-lifeless village). The book is particularly good at differentiating “normal” Alaskan situations the girls take in their stride from more dangerous or extreme situations, ranging from drunken sourdoughs to sweating up a storm at sixty below zero, and readers will appreciate the quiet theme of young Maura’s growing capability and her sister’s growing respect for her. This will tempt Robinsonnade fans of all kinds out into the literary cold. DS - Copyright 2009 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 11/01/2009 Gr 6–9— Smelcer draws on the early-20th-century history of his native Alaskan ancestors for this story based on the tragic effects of the white man's diseases on people who had neither natural immunity nor medicines to fight them. Two sisters, Millie and Maura, ages 13 and 10, are the sole survivors of such an epidemic in their village. Knowing that they cannot manage on their own, they strike off downriver in hopes of finding people who are still alive. The author vividly describes the progression of the disease on the afflicted, the inability of those who were still alive, but infected, to dispose of the dead properly, and the gruesome results. The sisters' flight is hampered by severe winter weather, a lecherous settler, and hungry wolves, which add to the tension in the story. The novel is part history and part survival guide. It also graphically illustrates the effects of a plague on isolated peoples. Readers come to know the sisters' strengths and weaknesses in the first few chapters. Both girls could best be described as stoic for they know that although they are mourning the loss of their parents, friends, and relatives, they must press on until they find other survivors. The cover art, a photograph of mukluks, does little to attract readers; librarians will need to booktalk this one.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC - Copyright 2009 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.