Monday, January 6, 2014

MMGM: Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Published: August 27th 2013
ISBN: 1442481412
Genre: Middle grade, historical fiction
Publisher: Margaret K. Mcelderry Book
Themes: Native American, early American history, family, friendship

About The Book: On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can take only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and the amazing metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.
John Wakely is only ten when his father dies, but he has already experienced the warmth and friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren’t as accepting of the native people. When he is apprenticed to a barrel-maker, John sees how quickly the relationships between settlers and natives are deteriorating. His friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

The intertwining stories of Little Hawk and John Wakely are a fascinating tale of friendship and an eye-opening look at the history of our nation. Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper also includes a timeline and an author’s note that discusses the historical context of this important and moving novel.

First Line: He had left his canoe in the river, tied to a branch of a low-growing cherry tree.

What Others Are Saying: "Ghost Hawk is a treasure.... Beautifully written, vivid with its manifest love for the land, it is a story of suffering and survival, both tragic and heroic."—(Karen Cushman, author of the Newbery Medal winner The Midwife's Apprentice)

"Well-researched and elegant historical fantasy... Cooper demonstrates, as Little Hawk says, “Change is made by the voice of one person at a time.” —(Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Cooper has written a richly plotted, lyrical, and near-epic novel...this is simply an unforgettable reading experience." —(Booklist, starred review)

"[A] sensitive portrayal of an unusual friendship."—(Kirkus Reviews)

"Cooper here demonstrates that there’s plenty of magic left in her pen, delivering a powerful and memorable novel."—(The Horn Book)

Bloggers Weigh In:
The Uninterrupted Reader
A Dream Of Books
As The Crow Flies (And Reads)
American Indians In Children's Literature

What I Thought: I was raised with the understanding that many of our ancestor's treatment of Native and African Americans was and often continues to be abusive. And though I understand the critique of the "White Savior" themes that are often portrayed in movies and literature, I believe that there is another perspective. The hope that if I were to live in that time, I would be strong enough to stand up to those that bully and abuse others based on ignorance and fear. We that hope and want to believe that see ourselves in these stories and are inspired by them. Not with the idea that we are superior, but that we would make choices in favor of respect and honoring other people.

Defining any group of people into a generalized perception, whether it's black, brown of white, only serves to deepen the gap. I believe Cooper did a good job demonstrating the multiple dynamics that existed in that time. One of my favorite parts is when Little Hawk tells John that it is John's open minded outlook that gives him the ability to see from other points of view and it will lead him to make good choices. Unlike those unwilling to see beyond what they know and reach out to those that are different as equally important human beings. What a great message for our children to embrace. The ability to question, wonder, always seeking understanding and connection. 

About The Author: Susan Cooper
Video Interview on Reading Rockets

Who: Susan Cooper is the author of the classic five-book sequence The Dark is Rising, which won a Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor Award, and two Carnegie Honor Awards. Born in England, she was a reporter and feature writer for the London Sunday Times before coming to live in the United States. Her writing includes books for children and adults, a Broadway play, films, and Emmy-nominated screenplays. Her most recent books for children are King of Shadows and Victory, and for adults a portrait of Revels founder Jack Langstaff called The Magic Maker. In 2012, Susan was given the Margaret A. Edwards Award and in 2013 she received the World Fantasy Award for life achievement. Her children’s novel Ghost Hawk was published in 2013. Susan lives and writes in Marshfield, Massachusetts.


  1. I've loved all of Susan Cooper's other books that I've read (the entire Dark is Rising sequence, Victory, King of Shadows), so I'm sure I would love this too. Glad to hear you think its message is valuable.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful book. I will definitely be checking it out. The cover art is gorgeous.

  3. I loved your thoughts about this book and it sounds wonderful. The theme sounds awesome and so important for kids (and adults). This is a book I will have to check out. Great cover, too! :)


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