Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

by Helen Frost

"If we / sit down to eat with James / and his family, will he and I be able to play... read more

"If we / sit down to eat with James / and his family, will he and I be able to play / a song together on our whistles? / That's what he hopes for, / the question I see in his eyes: / Are you still my friend?" On the brink of the War of 1812, James is the child of white settlers who run the trading post outside Fort Wayne in Indian Territory and Anikwa is a boy living in the nearby Miami Nation village. The two communicate through gestures and a handful of words they've taught one another whenever they meet in the woods or at the trading post. James's parents, especially his mother, view the people in the Miami village as friends. But the Miami are being encouraged by the British to take sides against the Americans in the pending war. Most people within the fort are now suspicious of their Miami neighbors. After Anikwa's village is burned, the villagers must flee, heading west without winter stores in hopes of finding refuge with neighboring tribes. The trading post is also ravaged by fire. Poems in the two boys' alternating voices chronicle how their tentative friendship is challenged by the rising tensions and fear that lead to assumptions and misunderstandings. Author Helen Frost also illuminates the complicated, untenable position in which Native tribes found themselves as American expansion continued west. The introduction to this artful and carefully researched novel provides historical context for the story, and brief notes tell more about the poetic forms she uses and this time and place in history. (Ages 9-12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

show less