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Arrow over the Door (Puffin Chapters) Paperback – July 8, 2002
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6?A thoughtful and eminently readable work. The story takes place during the summer of 1777 and is told in alternating voices by two young men from different cultures. Samuel Russell, a Quaker, wrestles with his faith's pacifism. He hates being called a coward by neighbors whose tolerance for the Quakers has been strained by their refusal to fight for independence. Stands Straight is an Abenaki whose family was killed by colonists. As British troops move toward Saratoga, he joins his uncle in a scouting party as the Abenaki try to decide which side to support. When the scouts reach the meeting house where the Quakers are worshipping, the two boys meet and each one grows as a result of the encounter. An author's note recounts Bruchac's research into the varying accounts of this true event and carefully notes any changes he made in his retelling. Full-page drawings in shades of gray fit the mood of the story without breaking the narrative flow. With a surprising amount of drama and even suspense, this tale of pacifism triumphant makes a good choice for historical fiction collections.?Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph, MA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Gr. 4^-7. Fourteen-year-old Samuel Russell hates being called a coward because he is a Quaker, and he vows to defend his family if Loyalists or Indians try to harm them. Stands Straight, an Abenaki boy whose mother and brother were murdered by white men, has joined his uncle's scouting party, though he questions why Indians should fight in the white man's war. In alternating narratives, the two boys tell this quietly compelling story, which is based on an actual incident that took place in 1777, just before the Battle of Saratoga. As Samuel's family sits in the meeting with the rest of the Quaker congregation, the Indian scouting party to which Stands Straight belongs surrounds the cabin. Stands Straight follows his uncle Sees-the-Wind inside, and after being assured that there are no weapons in the cabin, the Abenakis leave their bows and arrows outside and sit with the Quakers in silence. At the end of the meeting, the Quakers and the Indians share the handshake of peace, and Sees-the-Wind places an arrow over the cabin's door to show the Abenakis that the Quakers are people of peace. Simple black-and-white drawings reflect the dignified tone of the story, which explores the complexities of the Indian-white relationship, focusing on two lesser-known groups who were involved in the conflict. An author's note provides thorough historical background about the incident, as well as a brief history of the Quakers and the Abenakis. A truly excellent example of historical fiction for the middle-grade/junior-high audience. Karen Hutt --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Stands Straight was an Abenaki who was concerned about fighting for the British, a concern shared by others in his family. They decided to surround a meeting of the Americans they are supposed to be fighting, and judge from their response whether they are hostile or not.
Chapters alternate between the two boys until they meet inside the Quaker meetinghouse. The arrow over the door was a sign of friendship and protection from the Abenakis to the Quakers. This book is based on a true incident during the War for Independence, and is one of the many stories in Quaker history. Quaker ideas are incorporated, as is the history known of the Abenakis.
The book is written on a level for 9 - 12 year olds, although younger children would easily follow the story if read aloud. Some of the attitudes Samuel demonstrates are not the best, but in the end he came to see that his father was right in his nonresistance. I would recommend the book for learning about these two people groups in this time period, as I have not seen much about them; also as it is a retelling of history, not pure fiction.