Author Rosanne Parry’s first teaching job was on the Quinault Indian reservation in Taholah, Washington. Her fifth grade students at Taholah Elementary asked her why there had never been a book about them. Their questions launched Parry on a career as a writer of award-winning novels for young readers, including Heart of a Shepherd. Now, with Written in Stone, a heartfelt, meticulously researched portrait of a community in transition, Parry has provided an answer for her students, in a story dedicated to the children who inspired and welcomed her into their lives.
In 1923, Pearl is a 13-year-old girl who dreams of hunting whales like her renowned father, Victor Carver, who, she thinks proudly, is “the best whaler of the Makah, probably the best Indian whaler on the whole Pacific coast.” But Pearl’s hopes of accompanying her father are shattered when he is killed on the last whale hunt.
Pearl, who lost her mother and baby sister in the flu epidemic of 1918, must now search for her own path and find a way to carry forward and celebrate the traditions, stories and values of her family and community in a rapidly changing world.
In May 1999, the Makah successfully completed their first traditional whale hunt since the 1920s. Pearl’s story is told as a flashback on this occasion, as she remembers that last whale hunt and her own journey through her life.
In the author’s notes that provide historical context for young readers, Parry writes, “Pearl is a tribute to Native grandparents everywhere who work to keep cultural memory alive.” And it also seems clear that Written in Stone is a tribute to Parry’s fifth grade students, who shared their stories and culture with her.Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Paying tribute to the fortitude of Northern Native American tribes, Parry (Second Fiddle) creates a vivid novel tracing a Makah orphan girl's coming of age during the early 1920s. At one time, 13-year-old Pearl held an esteemed position in her tribe as the daughter of "the best whaler of the Makah" and a master weaver. Now, Pearl's parents are dead, and she is uncertain about her position in the world. She considers leaving home to work in the city like many struggling natives, including her independent-minded cousin. It isn't until a white stranger threatens to trick local tribes out of their oil-rich land that Pearl realizes her need to preserve her people's traditions and, especially, their stories. While unveiling a dark corner of history during a period when imperialism and the exploitation of Native Americans ran rampant, Perry, a former teacher at a Quinault reservation, beautifully conveys universal and historical themes. Readers will relate to Pearl's internal conflicts as she rebels against traditional women's roles yet clings to what she knows and loves. Ages 9-12. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. (June)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
Gr 5-7--Parry blends Native American folklore and culture with historical fiction to portray a 13-year-old girl who tries to remain true to the ways of her Makah tribe. Pearl's mother and baby sister died in the flu pandemic of 1918; five years later, her father loses his life on a whaling expedition, leaving her an orphan. She strives for ways to make a sustainable living while preserving her Pacific Northwest tribe's traditional practices of working with the land and its resources. Pearl's dream of becoming a whaler like her father is unrealistic, both because women are not allowed to hunt whales and because the whale population is rapidly diminishing. When an art collector approaches the tribe to purchase cultural artifacts for a museum, Pearl is suspicious. She uncovers his true agenda: he wants to tap the community's natural energy resources to the detriment of her people's livelihood. Realistic and insightful, Parry's novel succeeds in depicting a picture of one girl's experience to preserve her people's dignity and values in a rapidly changing modern world.--Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI[Page 139]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.