December 16, 2007

Bearwalker - by Joseph Bruchac

12-year old Baron has a tough life. Not only is he the shortest kid in the 8th grade at his new school in upstate New York, but his being Mohawk sets him apart even more. Add to that the fact that his parents are both marines fighting overseas in dangerous places, while he lives with his grandmother, and he's not very happy. At school, Baron has to deal with bullies, but luckily he finds a friend in the kindly school librarian, who helps him escape his troubles through good books (You go, Librarian!)

When the eighth grade heads out for their annual wilderness camping trip, even Baron is excited, but it doesn't take long for things to go very wrong. It wouldn't be fair to give too much away, but let me say that this is a more SCARY book than you would expect. The campers become trapped, good people turn out to be bad, and one scary staff member at the camp is out for blood.
Being a member of the Mohawk Bear Clan, Baron has always been fascinated with bears, especially a legend about a half-bear, half-man called the bearwalker who leaves his victim's bones piled up in a cave. He soon recognizes that this deranged man may in fact be a bearwalker, and that he alone can save all of their lives.

This book is GREAT! It's labeled as a children's book, but seems to be a bit more of a teen story, although I think advanced fourth graders could handle it. The reader learns a lot about the Mohawk people and their legends (the author himself is of that tribe, see his website), and gets a good scare in the process. This story left chills running down my spine...