A fictional retelling of the experiences of twelve-year-old Mary Jemison, who after being captured by a Shawnee war party during the French and Indian War, is rescued and subsequently adopted by two Seneca sisters with whom she ultimately chooses to stay.
Original publication date
When I recently came across a paperback edition of her 1941 children's book, Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison I was torn between my desire to read yet another book by a favorite children's author and my fear that the depiction of the Seneca Indians would be stereotypical and inaccurate. The illustration on the book's cover, 1995 cover art by Joanie Schwartz, depicting a young girl looking more like a Seventeen Magazine model than a frontier youngster/Indian captive, didn't help.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in this wonderful book, Lois Lenski has outdone herself in her illustrations, her story telling, and her research into her subject. A Newbery Honor book in 1942, it tells the true story of a young frontier girl who lived in a tiny settlement near what is current day Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Set during the French and Indian War, it is the fictionalized version of the Life of Mary Jemison, who in 1758 at the age of 15 was abducted by the Shawnee Indians along with her parents, two sisters, two younger brothers and a neighbor family. After a grueling forced march to Fort Duquesne, current day Pittsburg, Mary's family is killed and she is sold to two sisters of the Seneca tribe and adopted into the Seneca tribe as one of their own. It was the way of the Seneca to take captives to fill the places of their own loved ones who had been killed by enemies. The details of their practices are not sugar-coated, neither are they exaggerated.
Ms. Lenski really did her homework in preparing for this book and has faithfully captured in her art and words the lifestyle of the Seneca and of the larger Hodenosaunee or Iroquois Confederation. She has told the moving story of Mary Jemison with sympathy and yet she has not mired us down in tragedy but has helped us see the strength and beauty that came into Mary's life as she adjusted to her new family. Lenski's illustrations are primitive folk style art, in black and white, rich with detail and evocative.
The real life Mary Jemison stayed with her adopted family, living as a true Seneca until the end of her days at 91. Ms. Lenski spoke with descendants of Mary who still reside on reservations in New York and Ontario. She faithfully researched museums and historical libraries and leads us into the daily routine of the Senecas. Sharing myths and folk stories, accurate drawings of implements, utensils, garments, and ceremony, she captures the Indian way of looking at things and conveys nuances of attitude and philosophy with honesty and clarity.
Intended for the 9-12 year old readership, the story flows with simplicity, but is exciting and interesting enough for older readers as well. Living in Oneida country as I do, I was glad to have such an abundance of information on the Seneca who along with the Oneidas, the Cayugas, the Mohawks and the Onondagas, the tribes of the Hodenosaunee, were a part of the first Democracy to ever flourish upon this land, hundreds of years before white men ever set foot here.
Mary became known as The Two Falling Voices and her story is both tragic and triumphant. I found it very enriching, emotionally and intellectually stimulating, even as a children's book, so vividly is the tale conveyed.
Several non-fictional accounts have been published of the life of Mary Jemison, including one that she dictated to a doctor when she was in her 80s. This book serves as a wonderful introduction to her life's story and also to the stories of other white captives whose little known tales give us splendid insight into the frontier hardships of everyday people and of the indigenous people who struggled to maintain their own ways of life.
I recommend this book to any young reader who wishes to push beyond the confines of a text book into the hearts and minds of history. There is enough here, also, to intrigue most adults with a mind to go beyond the stereotypes.
This book was a joy to read. By reading this story, I learned a few details of the early Indian culture. This chapter book provides black and white pictures throughout the story. Literature circle questions and other activities are presented at the end of the book. While reading this story, I put myself in Mary’s shoes so to speak. I could feel the pain of this frighten young girl. Because of her strong will, I was driven to read in order it find out how Mary would overcome the obstacles she faced. This book will defiantly be passed along to my daughter who is ten years of age.
While reading this story, students can create a line graph to illustrate Mary’s first year living with the Seneca’s. Students could create a dictionary by illustrate and label tools and gear Mary was introduce to while living with the Seneca’s. Students could have a class discussion comparing Mary’s life before and after her capture. I would have Students to write an essay explaining their views about the end of the story. Did she make the right choice by staying with the Indians? Why or why not?
I thought this book was beautifully illustrated. The drawings were carefully done and brought the story to life. I found the dialogue a bit trying. The author used various dialects rather than writing in more simple terms. I also thought the story moved a bit slowly. Overall, it wasn't a bad book, but I didn't feel that it was a must read.
Mary and her family are taken by the Indians, but she winds up alone, adopted by a Seneca tribe. Some of her captors are not kind, but others show love and
The book covers the first two years of Mary's captivity, as "Corn Tassel", named for her platinum blond hair.
I'd classify this as young adult to adult, but some more mature pre-teens would probably enjoy it. It's a gentler version of a similar book, "A Light in the Forest", which I would also recommend.
I've have read this book twice.I found it very enjoyable.This book would be sutible for fourth and fith grade classes.It is good for young adluts to know that life wan't rainbows and sunshine in the olden days.It still isn't tday either.Things happen to people that can't be changed or avoided.You just have to gain from the knowledge you got from your experience.
I found it interesting that they would “adopt” a replacement from the whites who killed their family member... and gender didn’t matter. Mary or Corn Tassel was a replacement for a brother lost the year before. Her “sisters” cared about her and she learned to love her “nephew” even though he was an Indian baby and not her white baby that was killed by her captives.
I don’t know who would enjoy reading this Newberry honor winner of 1946. It’s too high for most of my students and I didn’t enjoy it enough to take the time to read it to them, though I could change my mind at a later date.
Mary's first days with the Indians are full of wariness and uncertainty. As soon as she's taken away, the old rumors she's heard ever since she was little start swirling around in her head: "nasty", "cruel", "killers", "beasts", but are these rumors really true? What lies ahead of her with her new life with the Seneca Indians? Will she ever see the family that's cared for her and loved her all her life ever again? These drastic changes hit hard on Molly since she's not sure if she can really trust the Indians or not. She never wishes to become an Indian woman, and all she wants is to be back home with the white people.
In this book I learned about how it was like to be held captive from Mary's point of view, and the hardships she had to overcome to continue on with her life. Normally I can't stand historical fiction books since they're really boring and all they do is list information, but this one wasn't actually that bad! It can be hard to find a book that you learn something AND find interesting; and this one was the right fit of both. Personally, I think the author; Lois Lenski did a fantastic job creating the "best of both worlds" historical fiction book!!!
Mary, who is known to the tribe as Corn Tassel because of her long blonde hair, thinks frequently about how she can escape and return to the white people. But over the course of time, she begins to care about and even love some of the people in her new "Indian" family. The book concludes when she has been with the tribe for about two years, and then is given the freedom to make a decision... will she leave and return to live with the white people, or will she remain forever a member of the Seneca?
She learned the Indian language and learned the way they lived. but when it came for her to pick
if she wanted to live with the white men. she thought, how could she leave the Indians she loved?.