, or because of his Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America.
Demos is a history professor at Yale, but I don't know if he's teaching there or not on a regular basis.
In doing the background work for my review of his Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl
, I see that he did another book for young readers, back in 1995. That one is The Tried and the True: Native American Women Confronting Colonization.
I'll see if I can find a copy of it.
The story Demos tells in this book is about Eunice Williams. Its audience is children who are 8 to 12 years old. Here's the description at Amazon:
In this riveting historical fiction narrative, National Book Award Finalist John Demos shares the story of a young Puritan girl and her life-changing experience with the Mohawk people.
Inspired by Demos’s award-winning novel The Unredeemed Captive, Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl will captivate a young audience, providing a Native American perspective rather than the Western one typically taught in the classroom.
As the armed conflicts between the English colonies in North America and the French settlements raged in the 1700s, a young Puritan girl, Eunice Williams, is kidnapped by Mohawk people and taken to Canada. She is adopted into a new family, a new culture, and a new set of traditions that will define her life. As Eunice spends her days learning the Mohawk language and the roles of women and girls in the community, she gains a deeper understanding of her Mohawk family. Although her father and brother try to persuade Eunice to return to Massachusetts, she ultimately chooses to remain with her Mohawk family and settlement.
Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl offers a compelling and rich lesson that is sure to enchant young readers and those who want to deepen their understanding of Native American history.
Eunice Williams was a real person, born in September of 1696. As a child, she was captured in a raid. The story Demos tells in Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl
is described (on the back cover of the ARC) as a historical novel inspired by The Unredeemed Captive.
His Unredeemed Captive
is cataloged as biography.
Todays "First Look" is the first in a series of blog posts I'll do on Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl
The words "PURITAN GIRL" are in black font. They're easy to see. The words "MOHAWK GIRL" are in a tan font. They're harder to read. I don't know what the cover designer was going for with the two different colors but I find the tan one less prominent. Visually, that makes Puritan more visible than Mohawk.
Look, too, at the 'R' in the first use of Girl and the R in the second use. See the difference? This reflects a design element in which font style is used to signal "other." You may have seen this on some book covers--where the shape and design of letters are used to visually signal "other." The R in the Puritan girl is what most would recognize as the way R's look, but the R in the Mohawk girl is angular. Visually, this different treatment of the R signals difference in how we're to think of these two peoples. Some would see the difference as good; others would not.
What are your thoughts on these visual ways of setting Puritan apart from Mohawk? Preface
The first line in the preface is
When Christopher Columbus and other explorers got to America from Europe, they found millions of people already living there.
Right off the bat, I see problems there.
First,"explorers" is the default word for Columbus and other "explorers." That idea--of exploration--is generally seen as a good, or, something positive. The word 'explore' means to investigate, study, analyze, become familiar with. The word "explorer" means one who explores. But, I think we all know there is more to Columbus's voyage than "explore." He was looking for something that would make him, those who sponsored his voyages, and others, too, wealthy (and wealthier).
Second, Demos used "America" to describe a place that wasn't--at that time--called America. The millions of people who were living there when Columbus arrived had their own words for it. The word "America" -- according to the Oxford dictionary
-- dates back to the early 16th century and is believed to be a derivation of the name of Amerigo Vespucci, who sailed along the west coast of South Africa in 1501.
In the 2nd paragraph, Demos writes
They saw America as a "new world." They settled on the land and claimed it for themselves. They started farms, villages, and towns. They organized "colonies" that belonged to their home countries in Europe. They didn't ask permission from the Indians; they just went ahead with their plans. They viewed Indians as inferior to themselves--as "savages" living in a primitive way.
Demos is following a well-trod way of depicting this "new world." By that, I mean he fails to note that Native peoples had farms, villages, and towns before Europeans got here. In the next paragraph he says that the two groups had certain advantages over the other, which is accurate, but what he says pretty much affirms the "primitive" and inaccurate imagery so many people have. More about that, later.
I'm also curious about using the idea of "asking for permission" to characterize what happened. It doesn't work, right? Let's bring it to something of the present day. Say you have some acreage that someone thinks you're not using. Let's say someone from Spain comes over, sees it, and thinks they'll build something there. They knock on your door and say "with your permission, I'd like to build my house on that spot over there." See why the idea of "permission" doesn't work?
I gotta dash off for now to do some other work. I welcome your comments on what I've said so far about this book.
John Demos has a book coming out in October of 2017 from Amulet Books (an imprint of Abrams). Some of you who read history books may recognize his name because of his book,