Cover image for Sweetgrass
Hudson, Jan, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1999.

Physical Description:
159 pages ; 20 cm
Living on the western Canadian prairie in the nineteenth century, Sweetgrass, a fifteen-year-old Blackfoot Indian girl, saves her family from a smallpox epidemic and proves her maturity to her father.
General Note:
"A PaperStar book."
Reading Level:
640 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.2 5.0 641.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.8 7 Quiz: 11147 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Can the whole tribe depend on her? Award-winning author Jan Hudson tells the enchanting story of a young Blackfoot girl caught up in the sweep of Western Canadian history.

Being the oldest unmarried girl in her Blackfoot tribe is misery for fifteen-year-old Sweetgrass, but her father feels she's not ready for the hard work and responsibility that come with being an Indian wife. Then, during the cold prairie winter, a smallpox epidemic breaks out. With the men away at war, Sweetgrass is one of the few women left to fight for the survival of her tribe. This is her chance to prove her maturity, but is she strong enough to fight the cold, hunger, and disease?

"In a colorful, lyrical style evoking all the sense, Sweetgrass tells, with strength and tenderness, a dramatic story."-- Kirkus Reviews (pointer review)

An ALA Notable Book, Booklist Editors' Choice, and winner of the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award.

Author Notes

Jan Hudson , a Canadian author of historical fiction, wrote two novels, Sweetgrass and Dawn Rider , both of which exemplify her interest in "social anthropology--the little things that make up most people's lives," as she stated in a 1989 Publishers Weekly interview with Bella Stander. She conveyed these details by using the history of the Blackfoot Nation as her background. Hudson's hope, more specifically, was to write about the lives of Canadian Indian women of the past who, in her opinion, had been ignored.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-9. Vivid characters bring the culture of the Dakota Indians in the 1830s to life through this richly patterned historical novel. Sweetgrass, a 15-year-old Indian teetering between childhood and maturity, longs to be married like other girls her age. Specifically, she pines for her childhood friend, Eagle-Sun, now a warrior. During the long year that climaxes in death and devastation by smallpox, Sweetgrass slowly matures from a daydreaming girl into a woman on whose skills, intelligence, and determination her whole family must depend. Hudson draws readers into the story through convincing characters and holds them with a colorful panorama of Dakota ways and the dramatic tale of Sweetgrass' development into a strong, capable woman. Hudson neither romanticizes the harshness of her heroine's ordeal nor makes her fully mature at its end; Sweetgrass retains a rather winsome quality despite all her trials. First published in Canada in 1984, this award-winning book deserves a wide readership south of the border and seems likely to get it, given its quality and, pragmatically, its dust jacket. Jan Spivey Gilchrist's painting captures the letter and spirit of the story, as well as its direct appeal to the heart. An unusually fine first novel. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

At 15, Sweetgrass is the oldest unmarried girl in her Blackfoot tribe; PW singled out the "graphic and powerfully written" final chapters and the heroine's "especially convincing" romance. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-10‘The poetic lore of the Blackfoot Indian sharpens a compelling coming-of-age tale of 15-year-old Sweetgrass' longing to be the wife of Eagle-Sun, and of the harrowing experiences she endures to ensure her tribe's survival. Majestic historical fiction with concerns that echo problems in today's society. (Apr. 1989) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.