In 1798 Rebecca, a young settler in the Ohio territory, meets the Shawnee called Tecumseh and later develops a deep friendship with him.
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A disappointing historical offering from Rinaldi, especially in the wake of her strong novel about Phillis Wheatley, Hang A Thousand Trees with Ribbons (1996). In reconstructing the romance between Rebecca Galloway, a teenage settler, and the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh, Rinaldi follows the historical record closely--perhaps too closely, for amidst Rebecca's tale of comings and goings, marriages, gossip, and details of daily life, there is little room left for plot and characters. Only six in 1798, when she first meets Tecumseh, Rebecca is smitten, a feeling that intensifies and becomes mutual over the next ten years as she tutors him in English during his rare visits. In between she reports--but seldom witnesses, dramatizes, or analyzes--his efforts both to build a tribal confederacy and to preserve the uneasy peace; she includes other events, of course, from the death of her brother's young wife to Ohio's emergence into statehood. In the end, Rebecca turns down his proposal, deciding (without ever having seen his village) that she cannot live as a Shawnee; a few years later, married to a farmer, she learns of Tecumseh's death in battle. Although only the dialogue and a handful of minor characters and incidents are fictional, Rinaldi never creates a clear picture of pioneer life or of Tecumseh's career, and his relationship with Rebecca is too sketchy to hold the foreground. (bibliography) (Fiction. 11-13) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-9. Set around the turn of the 18th century, this book mixes fact, fiction, and conjecture to tell the story of Rebecca Galloway, a young girl living in the wilds of pioneer Ohio, and the visionary Shawnee leader Tecumseh. Rinaldi skillfully imagines seven-year-old Rebecca's initial meeting with Tecumseh and relates intermittent visits up through her teenage years, leading to his asking for her hand in marriage, an offer she refuses because their worlds are too different. Along the way readers are shown the difficulties and rewards of pioneer life, and introduced to the excitement felt by settlers who took part in the process of building a nation. The Galloways are drawn as a family with high principles: Rebecca's father fought in the Revolutionary War, moved his family away from Kentucky where slavery was permitted, and championed the cause of the displaced Indians among the not always sympathetic whites. Rebecca is a strong-minded character with a believable and authentic voice. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will find much to like about this well-written and carefully researched novel. It succeeds in presenting both the plight and frustrations of Native Americans and the exuberance of the early pioneers in a sympathetic way, although the author falls clearly on the side of those who mourn the loss of a culture destroyed by white settlers. A rewarding and satisfying read.?Carrie Schadle, New York Public Library
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