Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon

Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Robbie Robertson teams up with Caldecott honor winner David Shannon to tell the story of how the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy was formed.  On page one, Hiawatha’s entire family has been killed, and his village burned to the ground.  In the midst of his despair, the Peacemaker approaches him, paddling a mysterious stone canoe, and invites Hiawatha to join him on a mission of peace.  The Peacemaker brings a message of forgiveness and peace to the Iroquois nations, but his voice is soft and he speaks with a stutter.  He needs Hiawatha’s powerful speaking abilities to convince the nations to stop their fighting.  Finally, everyone has joined together except the Mohawk, led by the evil Chief Tadodaho.  Tadodaho is the one responsible for the destruction of Hiawatha’s village.  Hiawatha must look deep within himself to find the forgiveness that is the only way to bring peace to the entire Iroquois nation.  Includes an historical note that tells the history behind this story and an author’s note that adds the personal tale of how Robertson came to write this book.  Grades 3-8.

Pros:  David Shannon’s beautiful paintings illustrate this fascinating blend of history, folklore, and mythology.  Take some time to appreciate the details of the story which has timely messages about peace and forgiveness.

Cons:  I found the story confusing until I read the historical note.  Some sources recommend this book for ages 4-8, but I don’t think audiences much younger than ten would fully appreciate it.

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