May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall. Amulet/Abrams, 2015

Jimmy McLean is self-conscious about his blue eyes, fair skin, and light hair. He even worries about his last name—McLean—which doesn’t sound Lakota, and is sometimes teased at middle school about being too white. Over summer, Jimmy’s Grandpa takes him to visit places significant in the life of the Lakota warrior and leader Crazy Horse, who was known as Light Hair as a boy. Over the course of their journey, which moves chronologically through a number significant events in Crazy Horse’s life, the history of Westward expansion and the Indian Wars, including the Battle of Little Bighorn, unfolds from a Lakota perspective, rooted in the drive for survival, while Jimmy gains insight into courage and identity. Lakota author Joseph Marshall echoes the oral tradition he grew up with in Grandpa’s stories about Crazy Horse. Set in italics, these are gripping accounts full of urgency that reveal the warrior’s intelligence and effort to keep his people free. Light Hair, later Crazy Horse, is witness time and again to brutality, persistence, and lies of Long Knives and others. But Grandpa is not unsympathetic to the fear and discomfort of U.S. soldiers fighting the Lakota and others so far from home—war is a human story for everyone. The present-day narrative featuring Jimmy and Grandpa is less fluid, but at times unexpectedly moving.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What causes Jimmy and his grandfather to start their road trip?
  2. Grandpa Nyles and Jimmy point out that the battle has a different name than they have given it (page 49). Why are there different names?
  3. What does Jimmy learn about himself through this road trip with his grandfather?


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