Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
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****Crossing the Panther's Path

by Elizabeth Alder

Reviewed February 1, 2003.
Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2002.  230 pages.
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #4, Young Adult and Children's Historical Fiction

Elizabeth Alder has a genius for portraying doomed heroes.  Her first book, The King’s Shadow, tells the story of King Harold, the king of England who was defeated by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.  Had Harold not been defeated, I probably wouldn’t exist, yet I found myself crying over his death.  When I got to visit Hastings and the site of Harold’s death, having read The King’s Shadow made it deeply meaningful to me.

Crossing the Panther’s Path tells the story of Tecumseh, a great Native American leader who united many tribes against the Americans and fought with the British during the War of 1812.  She writes from the perspective of Billy Calder, a half-Indian, half-British boy who served as Tecumseh’s translator as they struggled for a Homeland.

Reading makes it possible to see the other side of a story, which I think is one of its great gifts.  This book goes far beyond political correctness.  It makes the reader feel what it must have been like for the Indians as more and more Americans settled on their land.  This book tells an exciting and gripping story, all the more poignant since you know the cause is doomed.

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Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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