Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Written in Stone

Title: Written in Stone
Author: Rosanne Parry
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 208
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review Copy: Netgalley ARC & Library Copy
Release Date: June 25, 2013

Summary: Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life for the life of the tribe. But now that can never be. Pearl's father was lost on the last hunt, and the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships carrying harpoon cannons, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl's people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills.  -- cover image and summary via Goodreads

Review: A few years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to the Olympic Penninsula. I loved seeing it again through Written in Stone. Parry painted a picture of the landscape and I almost felt the fog roll in as I read. It is interesting to see the land, but also the time frame. There aren't that many middle grade books set in the 20s.

More than the setting though, the relationships in the story appealed to me. Pearl has lost both her parents and her sister, but she is surrounding by a caring extended family. Pearl's Aunt Susi works in town and lives on her own. She is a role model and a mentor who stands by Pearl, but also holds her accountable for her actions. Susi brings out the best in Pearl. More than anything else, this is a story of family and the strength that family can inspire.

Roseanne Parry taught on the Quinault Indian reservation. In this text, she has worked hard to respectfully portray the Quinault and Makah people and their history. She explained that she wanted to create a story that would let her students see characters like them. She shared some aspects of the culture, but was careful not to appropriate their stories. She alluded to several characters from stories, but did not explain out of respect. This was a difficult balancing act of utilizing the history to create something new without using the stories of the people because as she wrote in the author's note, "they are not mine to tell." I appreciated that she didn't just make up tales to go along with her narrative but let it stand on its own.

I would recommend Written in Stone. It provides a look into a time, place and culture that many children would not otherwise experience. For a little taste of the story, you may watch the trailer below.

Roseanne Parry's Pinterest Board related to the book

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