In this intriguing historical novel, which was inspired by the author's research into her own ancestry, an African American family in Alabama takes in an Apache runaway teenager in the late 1800s. The story centers on 12-year-old Sarah Jane Crossman, her father (a former slave turned farmer) and her part-Seminole mother. Although slavery has ended, old attitudes die hard in the South, and the three struggle daily to protect their land from prejudiced and greedy Sheriff Johnson (who relentlessly pesters them with unfair share-cropping propositions). One day they find a 15-year-old Apache named Sky in their barn, sick with a fever. They nurse him back to health and convince the authorities to release him into their care. McKissack's (Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?) multidimensional storytelling chronicles the complex relationship between Sky, the Crossmans, the African American community and the white community, resulting in an exciting, tension-packed page-turner. The novel's climax scene, in which Apaches, white Army soldiers, and African American neighbors join together to defend the Crossmans' property, seems a bit Utopian for the era, but readers will cheer for Sky as he leads the defense of ""his family's land"" against a white supremacist group. McKissack's skillful presentation of the obstacles confronting minorities after the Civil War makes this not only a captivating tale, but a comprehensive introduction to a pivotal period in U.S. history. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997 Release date: 10/01/1997 Genre: Children's
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