The Great Death

The Great DeathTwo Alaskan girls, aged 13 and 10, are the only survivors when their village is hit by a plague brought by white people What they endure is horrendous, aside from their shock and grief Tragic, yet a marvelous survival story I have to add, the writing in this short book is incredible There are haunting turns of phrase throughout An historical note at the front of the book indicates that Alaskan natives still refer to the start of the 20th century as the Great Death, when two thirds of native peoples were hit by influenza, smallpox, and measles Recommended for junior high and older because of disturbing content and a near rape scene. This was a nice, short book about two girls who are the only survivors in their village A disease has been brought to their village in Alaska by European settlers and it wipes out everybody they know The girls decide to travel to the next village for help and the book documents their travels It was interesting and easy to read and the girls were both very strong and likeable I think it would have been better if the book followed them further than it did instead of just leaving it to our inmagination but that s really the only complaint I have with this book It was a heartwarming story and told well. Historical fiction, plague, family, survival, Native Alaskan culture.Since I am just getting over the H1N1 flu this book was an interesting read Boy am I thankful for Advil, vitamins, gas furnace, bountiful pantry, etc This book follows 2 sisters as they travel a river to find other people who might be alive White people brought a plague to their Alaskan village and everyone died except them During the journey they are attacked by wolves, meet up with a hairy woodsman who drinks too much, find 2 dogs to travel with them and I learned a lot from this book I wonder who the author John Smelcer is Is he native Alaskan What kind of research did he conduct, etc. For such a small book, this story really packs an emotional punch.According to Mr Smelcer, nearly 2 3 of all Alaska natives perished from a pandemic of measles, small pox and influenza which became his inspiration for this story Set in the early 1900 s, Millie and Maura s remote Alaskan village is wiped out by an epidemic of small pox Millie and Maura are the sole survivors and decide that staying in their village will mean certain death So they set off to see if they can life in any of the nearest villages.One warning this book will leave you wanting to know about this period in history. This would work well as a middle grade book, or enjoyable as an adult reader Though not particularly graphic, the subject matter is obviously rather horrific The scenes near the beginning of the dying dead village were particularly difficult I really liked the two girls and their changing relationship, and the writing style has a very storyteller feel to it it reads almost as though I was being told the story out loud There s a lot of emotional punch for such a short story. Not enough story to hold together, not enough historical or cultural content to hold my interest anyway. The Visitors From Downriver Had Strange Pale Skin And Blue Eyes, But They Left A Deadly Sickness Of Red Spots And Fever Thirteen Year Old Millie And Her Younger Sister Maura Were The Only Survivors They Loaded Up A Raft To Take Them Away, And So Began An Epic Journey Through The Harsh Snowy Landscape This Book Tells Their Story. Very well laid out and nice story of strength The Great Death is visiting villages along the river and leaves 2 little girls orphaned They know they need to make their way to another village and this is the story of their journey and the obstacles they overcome The Indian lore and language really bring home the story of strength of the Native American People. Thirteen year old Millie is responsible for looking after her younger sister Maura Whenever Maura lingers or gets into mischief, Millie is held responsible She considers Maura a real pest But when small pox destroys their entire remote Alaskan village save Millie and Maura, both girls realize they will have to put aside their childish concerns to bear the sadness and brutal winter ahead Millie is determined to find a settlement downriver They simply can t stay in their village alone for the winter They bury their parents, put together the necessities they think they will need for a long wilderness trek and shove off in the canoe There is no other sign of human life as they travel Soon, the gentle river turns into swirling, rushing, dangerous whitewater Their canoe is smashed and they lose many of provisions but survive On foot, they face many perils, from hunger and frostbite to moose and bear They stumble upon a cabin inhabited by a white man At first he is very nice and brings them in to warm up and eat But later that night, a sinister side is revealed and the girls end up running from the cabin without their other meager possessions The great death is a tale of adventure and survival The girls are quite tenacious and courageous in the face of so much adversity and grief I liked it, but didn t love it Fans of Smelcer s The Trap or Diamond Willow by Helen Frost would be a natural audience for this book. SLJ review Grade 6 9 John Smelcer returns to the Alaskan wilderness he mined for The Trap 2006 with this short, historical tale 2009, both Holt about two Native Alaskan sisters orphaned by an epidemic When white men visit their small village, everyone becomes ill and dies, leaving 13 year old Millie and 10 year old Maura as the only survivors With winter fast approaching, they decide to travel downstream in search of other people Accompanied by two loyal village dogs, they make their way through the forest and encounter many treacherous obstacles Although the situation is grim, the sisters hopeful attitude and determination to survive make this an exciting listen A bit predictable in parts, the simple, lyrical language enhances the stark beauty of the winter setting Narrator Lorna Raver doesn t differentiate much between the sisters voices, but her cadence and delivery are perfectly paced for the story Smelcer doesn t fare as well with his chapter headings, which sound as if they were recorded in an echo chamber and are distracting An introduction, also read by the author, rounds out the recording The authentic details of survival in the winter wilderness are fascinating and should draw in reluctant readers Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, Oxford, MI

s first novel, The Trap, was an American Library Association BBYA Top Ten Pick, a VOYA Top Shelf Selection, and a New York Public Library Notable Book The Great Death was short listed for the 2011 William Allen White Award, and nominated for the National Book Award, the BookTrust Prize England , and the American Library Association s Award for American Indian YA Literature His Alaska Native mythology books include The Raven and the Totem introduced by Joseph Campbell His short stories, poems, essays, and interviews have appeared in hundreds of magazines, and he is winner of the 2004 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award and of the 2004 Western Writers of America Award for Poetry for his collection Without Reservation, which was nominated for a Pulitzer John divides his time between a cabin in Talkeetna, the climbing capitol of Alaska, where he wrote much of Lone Wolves, and Kirksville Mo., where he is a visiting scholar in the Department of Communications Studies at Truman State University.Smelcer is a prolific writer and poet whose many works focus primarily on subjects related to his Native American heritage An Ahtna Athabaskan Indian, he also serves as executive director of the Ahtna tribe s Heritage Foundation He is, noted a biographer on the Center for the Art of Translation Web site, the only surviving reader, speaker, and writer of the native Ahtna language John holds degrees in anthropology and archaeology, linguistics, literature, and education He also holds a PhD in English and creative writing from Binghamton University, and formerly chaired the Alaska Native Studies program at the University of Alaska Anchorage In the Shadows of Mountains Ahtna Stories from the Copper River contains a collection of twenty four stories from the Ahtna tribe The stories consist of material by Ahtna elders and other tales told to Smelcer by his Ahtna relatives These largely mythical stories explore the processes that formed this world and created people, animals, places, and the distinctive interactions between humans and nonhumans in legendary times, noted James Ruppert in MELUS The tales range from stories common throughout Alaska, such as The Blind Man and the Lion, to distinctly Ahtna stories specific to individual families and clans, such as When They Killed the Monkey People Ruppert concluded that Smelcer s book has some value as a broad introduction to Ahtna narrative aimed at a general reader The Trap, Smelcer s first novel, is an unforgettable survival tale, with both a life and a culture in the balance, commented Vicky Smith in Horn Book Magazine Septuagenarian Albert Least Weasel still clings to the old ways he has known all his life While checking his traplines one cold winter day, Albert gets caught in one of his own wolf traps Unable to reach his store of supplies, Albert faces certain death by exposure, dehydration, or animal attack, unless he can free himself or is rescued At home, Albert s seventeen year old grandson Johnny becomes increasingly worried about his grandfather s welfare Despite his best efforts, he is unable to generate much concern for the old man from his uncles, and cultural pride and the unwillingness to disrespect his elders prevents him from setting out on a search until his grandmother asks him to find her husband By then, however,

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  • Paperback
  • 167 pages
  • The Great Death
  • John E. Smelcer
  • English
  • 15 June 2017
  • 9781842709191

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