12 boys seek revenge for an attack on their Anishnabe camp. The 13th retells their story. Robinson’s story, based on a kernel of an idea from a Wisconsin folklorist, is an interesting adventure tale set among Native American tribes.
The boys – and nearly all key characters are male – are engagingly written. It has the feel of a legend, almost as if it is a story within a story. The plot moves quickly but the storyteller’s experience is well described and provides a good amount of detail. I thought the use of certain Anishnabe words in key places was a nice nod to the cultures reflected in the tale.
It took me a few starts before I finally got to a point where I couldn’t put it down. The focus on small pieces of the cultures keeps the story interesting, and doesn’t attempt to over describe the time period or interactions of different tribes beyond the horizon of the story itself.
This would be a great addition for a school or public library, perhaps 5th to 8th grade. I think boys would be more attracted to the story, although the woodcraft and adventure is universal.