Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Ghost Hawk

Ghost Hawk

Fall 2013 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Susan Cooper
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4424-8141-1
Hardcover Price: $16.99

On the day of Little Hawk's birth, his father, Flying Hawk, visits a small island in a salt-water marsh, where he twists the slim branches of a young bitternut hickory tree around a tomahawk blade that has belonged to generations of family men. Eleven years later, he takes Little Hawk to cut down the tree and retrieve this treasure, now solidly embedded in the wood. At this age, Little Hawk is subjected to the three-month test of solitude which is designed to turn him into a man during the dead of winter. He is not allowed to eat or drink until he is visited by his Manitou, the spirit which will go with him all his life. The tomahawk is basically his only utensil.

The beginning of little Hawk's story is an absorbing survival adventure where facets of the lives of Wampanoag Native Americans in early seventeenth century New England are revealed. When Little Hawk survives and returns to his village, he finds it decimated by an epidemic brought by the white settlers which killed all of his family except for his grandmother. Little Hawk's story becomes entwined with that of a white settler, a boy, John Wakeley, through a tragic accident.

In an unanticipated, totally original plot twist, the story takes off in a new direction revealing the life of John who is apprenticed to a barrel maker. Elements of fantasy are woven into the lives of Little Hawk and John. These are so integral to this amazing story that the reader accepts them without question. While some of the characters are historic figures, the book integrates the real, the fictional, the realistic and magical elements into a stellar whole.

Kemie Nix   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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