"A visually stunning fictional account of a young nineteenth-century Sioux warrior's quest for knowledge that takes him from the plains of his childhood to a far-off boarding school where he learns the ways of the white world--and the value of his own traditions. A hand-calligraphed tribute to the narrative pictographs recorded by Plains artists in the ruled ledgerbooks they acquired in trade, the weaving of Cvijanovic's richly detailed original illustrations in the "ledger" style into a simply written story inspired by actual events holds appeal for young readers and those who wish to learn more about Native American art and history."
The story of Thomas Blue Eagle, a Lakota Sioux who has a pretty wild life - raids, visions, nighttime reprisals - until his father sends him to the Carlisle Indian School to learn the ways of the white settlers moving into the area. Carlisle was an educational establishment that ran from 1879 to 1918 in Pennsylvania. (Remember Jim Thorpe? He went there.) The school's mission was to indoctrinate young Native Americans with European culture, while attempting to eradicate any vestige of their native past. Lawyer/photojournalist Grutman, and her interior designer/photographer twin sister, Matthaei, present Thomas's story as a ledgerbook, with vibrant juxtapositions of colorful pictographic images and formal script written by Thomas while at Carlisle. It's a smart idea that comes to no good. Thomas claims that despite his six years in school he remains very much a Lakota Sioux, but he seems to have unwittingly bought in to some of the Carlisle doctrine: the notion of property, for example, which did not exist in his own culture. And what's supposed to signify his Native-Americanness sounds merely like modern environmental correctness. Promising, but with real credibility problems. (Kirkus Reviews)