cover image The Indian School

The Indian School

Gloria Whelan. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027077-3

With eloquent if predictable precision, the author recreates the tensions of early 19th-century Michigan. When Lucy's parents are killed, her gruff aunt and uncle agree to take her in and have her brought from Detroit to their home in Coldriver. Unsentimentally, they expect her to earn her keep at the mission school they run, where they teach Indian children good Christian doctrine and proper white ways. One girl, however, refuses to adapt and runs away, leaving Lucy to keep a big secret from her domineering aunt. While the climax of this book is frustrating in its patness (a crisis illness draws everyone closer), Whelan (Night of the Full Moon) manages to transport the reader into a believable and complex past, when manifest destiny drove adult actions--and when girls still had time to admire the sunlit autumn forest and notice that ""the maples looked as if they had been hung with hundreds of scarlet lanterns."" Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 7-10. (Oct.)