Cover image for Crossing the panther's path
Crossing the panther's path
Alder, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002.
Physical Description:
229 pages ; 22 cm
Fifteen-year-old Billy Caldwell, son of a British soldier and a Mohawk woman, leaves school to join Tecumseh in his efforts to prevent the Americans from taking any more land from the Indians in the Northwest Territory.
Reading Level:
810 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.1 9.0 60430.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.2 14 Quiz: 33654 Guided reading level: V.
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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A YALSA 2002 Best Book NomineeAfter braving a blizzard across the wilderness to join his Mohawk mother and Irish father, fifteen-year-old Billy Calder meets the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Based on a true story, this is rousing historical fiction about young soldiers and the terrible events culminating in the War of 1812.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-8. The author of The King's Shadow (1995) offers another novel rich in history. Fifteen-year-old Billy Calder, son of a Mohawk mother and Irish father, is anxious to work with Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief who is hard at work trying to mobilize the Indian tribes between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to rebuff the constant encroachment of American settlers in the early 1800s, and Billy's linguistic talents make him a valuable interpreter for the Shawnee warrior. As a member of the chief's inner circle, Billy observes the assistance given by the British army that led to early victories at Mackinaw and Detroit; the intense dislike between Tecumseh and American General William Henry Harrison; and the events leading up to Tecumseh's death at the Battle of the Thames. Alder's novel goes a long way toward explaining the issues and events of the War of 1812, especially as they pertain to the campaigns fought in the upper Midwest and Canada. Readers will identify with Tecumseh's plight and come to understand, if not agree with, the British and American points of view. --Kay Weisman

School Library Journal Review

A novel based on the true story of Billy Calder, Tecumseh's translator and aide during the War of 1812. The teen is half Irish and half Mohawk, educated by the Jesuits, fluent in many languages, falling in love, and fiercely dedicated to the cause of the Indians and the British in the war. Once initiated into his mind and culture, readers will be walking trails, canoeing streams, riding horses, and fighting battles along with him. Throughout, he clearly matures and develops, but only as an idealized character, which accomplishes the author's apparent aim of raising him to heroic status. The valuable Native American perspective is important: William Henry Harrison is cast in an extremely negative light that rarely is illuminated in textbooks, and the generalized American ambition is shown to do what it indeed did, that is, destroy the homeland and much of the culture of the native peoples. Such historical aspects are so well woven into the text that they are at once unnoticed and accepted as part of the story and how things were at the time. Libraries should have copies of the novel to share with the many readers who will enjoy it. -Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.