Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sees Behind Trees

Dorris, Michael.1996. Sees Behind Trees. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-078681357-5

Near sighted Walnut can't shoot or hunt, but he can see what isn't there due to his other senses.  This earns him the name Sees Behind Trees.  His new skills and "powers" will be put to the test as he helps Gray Fire find his way back to a magical place and his own way home.
Sees Behind Trees is a simply written tale of a young Powhatan boy on the cusp of manhood.  The novel centers around Walnut who is renamed Sees Behind Trees after a special test of manhood where he demonstrates his ability to see what isn't there by using his heightened sense of hearing.  Sees Behind Trees takes on a test to help Grey Fire find a magical place of his youth.  The journey is a life altering experience for the young man and provides an insight into the transition from boy to man. 

Author Michael Dorris paints an authentic picture of life among the Powhatan people.  Simple inclusions of information allow the reader to have a true idea of the looks, sounds, and smells of the village.  Everyday cooking smells of pemmican, venison, and fish are included giving the reader an entry into the home life of Sees Behind Trees and his village.  Interwoven into the simple text are aspects of village life such as descriptions of clothing, bows and arrows, bluebird feathers in headdresses, and belief systems that include superstition.
starred review- Publishers weekly- "thrilling"
starred review- Booklist- "Brilliant and deeply humane"
Kirkus- "Dorris has captured the angst that is part of the invisible doorway between childhood and adulthood"

School library journal best book 1996
Publishers weekly best book of 1996
Book Links best book of 1996
Learn about the Powhatan Indians at http://www.bigorrin.org/powhatan_kids.htm
Powhatan Indians are famous for their interaction with the Jamestown settlers.  Explore their village life at http://ab.mec.edu/jamestown/powhatan.html
The Powhatan Indians are one of the First Peoples of Virginia.  They lived in log and birch houses and traveled by canoe.  Have children create a canoe out of construction paper.

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