From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Though the year 1812 rings ominously in the ears of any American history student, for Anikwa and James it is simply their 12th year, one that they expect will unfold like those that came before it. Anikwa, a member of the Miami tribe, and James, the son of traders living just outside Fort Wayne, have an easy friendship filled with trapping, fishing, and exploring the surrounding woods and river. Yet as outside events begin to converge, the first signs of betrayal and confusion enter their world as all is turned upside down. Frost, as readers have come to expect, fully embraces the stylistic possibilities of the verse form; James's poems run in long parallel lines visually representing the stripes of the American flag, while Anikwa's mirror Miami ribbon work. The two voices-and therefore forms-alternate easily throughout the story. The titular salt is sprinkled throughout the narrative, both as the subject of short poems that "give readers pause" between events (according to Frost's notes) and as a symbol of the fragile friendship between frontiersmen and Native Americans. James's father uncharacteristically withholds salt from Anikwa's people as tensions rise; yet pages later he watches as James takes great risk to get salt to Anikwa outside the stockade. The verse is succinct, yet beautiful, and the story is rich in historical and natural details. Fans of frontier and survival stories will find much to love within these pages.-Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Set during the War of 1812, near the present-day city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Salt is the story of the friendship between Anikwa, a Miami Indian boy, and James, the son of a trader. As both British and American armies advance on the area, other Native American peoples arrive hoping to fight with the British against the Americans. The plan fails, and Anikwa’s peaceful people must flee. Will they have to abandon their traditional home, and will the friendship between the boys be sundered? Printz Honor Book author Frost (Keesha’s House, 2003) has written, with artful economy, another affecting novel in verse. Interspersed among selections narrated in the alternating voices of the two boys are poems about the salt that is necessary to the survival of both peoples. Frost explains that the form of Anikwa’s verses, rich in Miami words, evokes the diamond and triangle shapes of Miami ribbon work, while James’ more linear form suggests the stripes of the American flag. While acknowledging the uncertainties, misunderstandings, and occasional animosities of war, Frost also celebrates the relationship of both the Miami people and the Americans with the land and with each other. Explanatory notes and a glossary of Miami words are appended to this lovely evocation of a frontier America and the timelessness of friendship. Grades 5-8. --Michael Cart