Heart of a Chief
by Bruchac, Joseph

An eleven-year-old Penacook Indian boy living on a reservation faces his father's alcoholism, a controversy surrounding plans for a casino on a tribal island, and insensitivity toward Native Americans in his school and nearby town.

Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. For more information about Joseph, please visit his website www.josephbruchac.com.

Gr. 5^-8. In this novel Bruchac explores three contemporary issues in Native American culture: alcoholism, casino gambling, and the racist names of sports teams. Chris, an 11-year-old Penacook Indian, is trying to hold on to his people's traditions in very unsteady times. At school he speaks out against the name of the sports team, the Chiefs; at home he reaches out to his father in rehab; and on the reservation he fights against bringing in a casino to alleviate widespread poverty. Bruchac has trouble weaving the three strands into a unified whole: the conflicts emerge quickly and are resolved too easily. What works are Chris' dignified struggle and the honest dialogue, which is never preachy despite the book's overtly political themes. Bruchac perfectly captures a boy's pride in his culture and the pain and anger he feels when his rich identity is mocked by a "tomahawk chop" from a sports fan. Readers who see injustice in their own lives will admire how much Chris accomplishes with a simple message of respect. ((Reviewed October 15, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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