Cover image for The winter people
The winter people
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Dial Books, c2002.
Physical Description:
168 p. : map.
Reading Level:
800 L Lexile
As the French and Indian War rages in October of 1759, Saxso, a fourteen-year-old Abenaki boy, pursues the English rangers who have attacked his village and taken his mother and sisters hostage.


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Saxso is fourteen when the British soldiers attack his Canadian village. It is the year 1759, and war is raging between the British and the French, with the Abenaki people-Saxso's people-by their side. In fact, most of the men of Saxso's village are away looking for the British elsewhere on the day of the attack. There aren't enough people home to put up a proper defense, and the village is destroyed. Many people are killed and some are taken hostage, including Saxso's own mother and two younger sisters. It's up to Saxso, on his own, to track the raiders and bring his family back home.

Riveting and poignant, this novel sheds new light on history, offering the fascinating untold story of the Abenaki perspective on the French and Indian War. Joseph Bruchac is acclaimed for his novels about Native American history and culture, and he is at his very best with this tale of family and community, courage and sacrifice.

Author Notes

Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two , Skeleton Man , and The Heart of a Chief . For more information about Joseph, please visit his website

Reviews 4

Horn Book Review

In 1759, British soldiers raid the Abenaki community of St. Francis, burning the village to the ground, shooting fourteen-year-old Saxso, and abducting his mother and sisters. The pitch-perfect narrator embarks on a dangerous journey to save his missing family members in this well-crafted novel of the French and Indian Wars. An author's note places events within their historical perspective. From HORN BOOK Spring 2003, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-10. Historical fiction doesn't get much better than this. Like Michael Dorris' Morning Girl (1993) and Louise Erdrich's The Birchbark House (1999), Bruchac takes an event we thought we knew about--the French and Indian Wars--and presents it from an entirely different standpoint. In October 1759, Major Robert Rogers--of the famed Rogers Rangers--led his British soldiers and a Stockbridge Indian party on a raid against the Abenaki village of St. Francis, whose inhabitants were Abenaki Catholics and their French allies. This gripping story is told by Saxso, a 14-year-old who sees his home destroyed and his mother and sisters carried off into captivity. Saxso tracks them and rescues them. There is passion here both external and internal. As Saxso tries to find his family, he also seamlessly maintains both his Catholic faith and belief in Klist, son of the Great Spirit. His knowledge of his spirit kin in the forests and waters and what they can teach also strengthens him. The narrative itself is thrilling, its spiritual aspects enlightening. An author's note shows how much of Saxso's story is grounded in Abenaki narrative and in the history of Bruchac's own family. GraceAnne DeCandido.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-For much of the 1990s, Ken Griffey Jr. was the most popular player in baseball. Glenn Stout (Little, 1999) tells the story of how Griffey's joy for the game, combined with his amazing talent, propelled him to the top of the baseball world. Fans will enjoy this story of how a young man who grew up as the son of a major league star followed and then surpassed his father's footsteps. However, Griffey's rise to the top was not always a smooth one. After struggling early in his professional baseball career, Griffey tried to commit suicide. Griffey also had some typical teenage problems, such as being caught speeding and struggling to keep his grades up. Later on, when he became a star, Griffey, an African-American, had to deal with racist threats. Die-hard baseball fans will delight in the plethora of statistics as well as the detailed descriptions of key plays and key games. Ramon de Ocampo enthusiastically narrates Griffey's journey to stardom. Like many sports books, though, this one has quickly become dated. It ends after the 1999 season, with Griffey just having been traded by the Seattle Mariners to his hometown team, the Reds. Since then, Griffey's career has taken a downward turn and he has lost some of his luster.-David Bilmes, Schaghticoke Middle School, New Milford, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

In 1759, in the midst of the global conflict between France and England, a little village in Quebec was a small arena of the larger conflict. The English, with the help of Stockbridge Indian scouts, attacked the Abenaki village of St. Francis, allied with the French. According to Major Robert Rogers's account, the attack was a huge success for the English: the village was devastated and the Abenakis wiped out. Bruchac tells the Abenaki version of the story, which is, apparently, borne out by modern historians. In this story, through the eyes of Saxso, a young Abenaki boy, the village was indeed attacked by the Bostoniak, their name for the English, but the attack was not a complete success. Much of the village was destroyed, and loved ones were killed or kidnapped. But the surviving Abenakis exacted a toll on the fleeing Bostoniak, and players in the story, such as Saxso, followed the Bostoniak and rescued family members. It seems a fair-minded account. Saxso acknowledges the help he had along the way, from the teachings of parents and his uncle, his great-grandfather, a Stockbridge warrior who admired Saxso's courage, and-near the end of the journey south toward Crown Point on Lake Champlain-the kindness of two white people who helped heal his wounds. Bruchac's passion is for retelling the "untold or misrepresented events of history," and this is one of his best-written novels. He keeps the focus small-one boy's story in this one incident-and, through it, weaves in much related history for context. The author succeeds in making the point of the story universal: the importance of not becoming consumed with hating an enemy who has winter in his heart, but "how necessary it is to always keep the summer in our hearts." An important addition to American history fiction collections. (author's note) (Fiction. 10+)

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 The Bush That Talkedp. 5
2 The Bostoniakp. 10
3 The Worrier's Warningp. 17
4 In the Dance Hallp. 25
5 The Ravinep. 35
6 Malian's Songp. 40
7 The Attackp. 44
8 The Burned Villagep. 51
9 Jean Baptistep. 57
10 Little Pinesp. 62
11 Cooking Firesp. 67
12 Pieces Coming Togetherp. 72
13 The Silver Virginp. 78
14 Two Days' Startp. 82
15 The Shoulder Bone Trailp. 87
16 Chief Gill Arrivesp. 91
17 Setting Outp. 96
18 Empty Shoresp. 101
19 Hidden Canoesp. 107
20 Stories of Battlep. 113
21 The Knotted Branchp. 117
22 The Smell of Meatp. 121
23 The Stalkerp. 127
24 The Messagep. 132
25 The Beech Treep. 136
26 Waitingp. 141
27 In Battlep. 145
28 Going Homep. 150
29 The Circle Within the Circlep. 157
Author's Notep. 160
Acknowledgmentsp. 167