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Complex Relationships: Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Hello friends!

It’s always nice when a book pleasantly surprises you. I didn’t go into reading Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.

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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 Ghost Hawk by Susan Coopertraded 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.

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I started Ghost Hawk, expecting to be underwhelmed, but quickly realized that I was turning page after page to find out what would happen next. I was completely riveted to this story of an unlikely friendship between two boys from vastly different worlds. Woven between this story of friendship is the turbulent history between colonial New Englanders and the Native Americans of the region detailing one of those difficult and change ridden era in American history. The complexity of the relationship between these two wildly distinct cultures is handled well here. Cooper doesn’t over simplify the overlapping layers of mistrust and kindness, but it is also written appropriately for middle grade readers to grasp to basic themes.

However, I do wonder if this is truly a book geared towards middle grades readers. It is already a struggle to get my students to pick up a historical fiction title, and there is at times a slowness to the story (that isn’t a negative thing just an observation). Due to the sometimes complex themes, I don’t know if any of my students would enjoy and completely understand the whole story and context of Ghost Hawk while reading it independently. I feel like it would be best read, and enjoyed, in a guided group setting (for middle school readers at least) so that they can discuss the story and it’s depth with other readers.

When I read other online reviews of this story, most people complained that they lost interest once the narration switches primarily to John’s life, instead of Little Hawk’s. It seems that people thought the pacing slowed done and the story just kind of plodded along, but I totally disagree. Maybe it’s because of my own preferences with regards to historic events, but I enjoyed reading about the Puritans and John’s experience so much more and this book became more interesting to me as it progressed. I was especially intrigued by the “rebel” Puritan and his breakaway colony, so much so that I’ve spent some extra time researching a little more about it.

In the end Ghost Hawk is a hauntingly beautiful story of friendship and tolerance of those who are different than ourselves. These themes are as important for adults to be reminded of as well as younger readers, so I think that readers of all ages (who enjoy historical fiction) will get something out of this book.

Author: Susan Cooper

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 27, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 336 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:

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Reading Queue: April

The Reading QueueHello!

Holy junk April surprised the heck out of me! One day it was March and the next….BAM! APRIL!

I guess that’s how it happens though isn’t it? haha

Well, I’m back and ready to bring you a brand new Reading Queue…even if it is a few days late!

What is the Reading Queue?  The Reading Queue is a monthly meme, hosted by Book Tasty (hola!) and Books: A true story where we share our reading plans for the month. You can check out other participating blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you! Or you can ask for people to vote on what you should read next if you can’t decide. Please feel free to contact me in the comments if you’d like to join and/or if you have questions!

What I Read in March

March was a really good reading month for me! I was able to finish eight books, which is two more than my average six! Now, I’m counting one I Did Not Finish (DNF) because it’s my list and I can! haha

The Lord of Opium by NancyFarmerThe Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer (DNF)

Maybe it’s because I didn’t read House of the Scorpion, but I just couldn’t get into this one.

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was a very cute contemporary filled with family and romance.

Jessica Darling's It List by Megan McCaffertyJessica Darling’s It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection by Megan McCafferty

I haven’t read the original Jessica Darling books, but I know now I must!

Skybreaker by Kenneth OppellSkybreaker (Matt Cruise #2) by Kenneth Oppel

Starclimber by Kenneth OppelStarclimber (Matt Cruise #3) by Kenneth Oppel

This series is one of my new favorites!

March Book One by John LewisMarch (Book One) by John Lewis

Civil Rights history in graphic novel form! I loved it!

Serafina's Promise by Ann E BurgSerafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

This novel in verse was beautiful.

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. NielsenThe Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I really enjoyed this trilogy a lot!

My April Reading Queue

There are so many books I want to read so badly this month! I’ve already started three of them, so I’m hopeful about my goal of ten!

The Flame in the Mist by Kit GrindstaffThe Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

The Boy Problem by Kami KinardThe Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl

Half a Chance by Cynthia LordHalf a Chance by Cynthia Lord

The Hypnotists by Gordon KormanThe Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Ghost Hawk by Susan CooperGhost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Manor of Secrets by Katherine LongshoreManor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

TheTimeFetchThe Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

Better to Wish by Ann M. MartinBetter to Wish by Ann M. Martin

Doll Bones by Holly BlackDolly Bones by Holly Black

There you have it! Have you read any of the title on my April Reading Queue?  Please feel free to link up and join us this month! I’d love to check out your Reading Queue too!