- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

BOOK: “The Beaded Moccasins”

AUTHOR: Lynda Durrant

PUBLISHER: Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Co. (1998), hardcover, 192 pages

PRICE: $15

PUBLISHER’S RECOMMENDED READING LEVEL: Ages 9 to 12

INFORMATION: houghtonmifflinbooks.com/clarion

By Gabriele J. Vogt, age 12

Home-schooled, Purcellville

If you’re interested in historical fiction, this is the book for you. Lynda Durrant’s “The Beaded Moccasins” is set in the mid-1700s and follows the story of Mary Campbell, a farm girl who was kidnapped by Delaware Indians in 1759.

Mary travels with the Indians and gradually is accepted as one of them despite her hate for them. As the book continues, her dislike of the Indians melts like a dish of ice cream set out on a hot summer day. The novel carries itself fairly well, but the climax is spoiled by a disappointment at the end.

The plot is well-built throughout the book with some minor twists and turns thrown in to build the climax. After a brief scene at the family farm, the girl is captured by the Indians.

The annoyance is that the author spends far too much time on the journey to the Indian camp. The major irritation is that the girl thinks of escaping the Indian camp several times but never goes farther than a few yards. The book has a few interesting surprises, yet it lacks the power to captivate a wide variety of audiences.

Although the book has a trifling number of important characters, the author did a good job at developing those few astonishingly well. The Great Sachem was well characterized and could easily be recognized and described by a reader. The characterization is well done and the book should be praised for it.

The book has a nice historical background included, even though it is fiction. Sadly, the history is somewhat marred by the author’s carelessness in not mentioning any historical dates. Readers may find it annoying to have to go to the Afterword for specific historical dates.

The themes in “The Beaded Moccasins” are not uncommon, but they are not all used properly. For example, one is betrayal. The girl thinks that because her family didn’t save her from the Indians, they have betrayed her, and that gives her the right to cut off relations from them completely and never return to see them again.

The terrible thing about this is that the author makes the reader think that the girl is right to carry out these rebellious actions.

Overall, “The Beaded Moccasins” is a fairly good read. The story will entertain you up to its climax, but probably, depending on your opinion, will disappoint you at the end. I advise caution, as it is not the cleanest piece of historical fiction out there.

It also has some mild suggestive themes and one very descriptive scene of an animal being gutted. The book’s intended audience should be historical-fiction-loving girls ages 12 through 14. This book is not about action and adventure — it’s about survival.

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