Reviews for Soft Rain : A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 1998
Gr. 4^-7. The historical facts are authentic in this docu-novel about the forced march west of the Cherokee from their home in North Carolina in 1838, but the writing is flat, with idealized characters, a contrived subplot, and purposive bits of culture and history patched on to the story. All of young Soft Rain's family members are perfectly strong, gentle, and brave, both before the removal and on the march. What will hold readers is the personal drama of the terror from the child's point of view: the white soldiers' invasion of her home, the separation of her family, the brutal roundups, then the long, bitter journey from home. ((Reviewed August 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1998 August #2
Cornelissen (Music in the Wood, 1995, etc.) relates a tragic chapter of American history, the removal of the Tsalagi, or Cherokee, from their land in North Carolina and their march westward to Oklahoma, as seen by a nine-year-old Tsalagi girl. Soft Rain is informed at school one day of the removal of her people; in no time, soldiers barge into her home and break apart her family. She and her mother are taken to a stench-filled stockade, where the white man's sickness quickly kills her cousin and best friend, Green Fern. Soft Rain is a strong and sympathetic character, as well as a good storyteller, evoking the harsh winters, hunger, and rage that are part of her journey, as are her experiences with the kindness of strangers. Among the rousing details in the narration are Soft Rain's whispers to a soldier through the fence to get information, her worries over the uktena, or horned snake, when crossing the river, and her silent huddling with her brother under a blanket in the pouring rain. Such particulars enlighten readers, even as the characters themselves transform a sorrowful story of adversity into a tale of human resilience. (bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright 1998 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 December #1
In what PW called "an eye-opening introduction to a painful period of American history," a Cherokee girl recounts the hardships of 1838 leading up to and including the journey along the Trail of Tears. Ages 8-12. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1998 October
Gr 3-5-In the spring of 1838, nine-year-old Soft Rain learns that there will be no more school for the Cherokee children in her North Carolina community. The Tsalagi (as the tribal members refer to themselves) have signed a treaty with the white men and will be moving to new lands in the West. A short time later, soldiers abruptly force Soft Rain and her mother from their home, abandoning the girl's blind grandmother, her dog, and her father and brother out working in the fields. They follow the Trail of Tears, the path taken by 18,000 Cherokee traveling from stockaded holding areas across rivers, valleys, and mountains. Hungry, exhausted, and often ill from the white man's disease, some 4000 people died during the migration. But Soft Rain's story ends more happily; she and her mother miraculously meet up with her father, brother, and an uncle. The author makes clear the hardships these Native Americans endured and the injustice of their exile, but her protagonist remains remarkably positive. Because she has been relatively unaffected, readers may be, too. At one point the grandmother tells a story; at that moment, the book becomes more than just the record of a trip but a glimpse of a disappearing culture. However, there aren't enough of these stories to bring readers closer to this girl and her world. Still, this novel is a readable version of a shameful episode in U.S. history and may find use as a supplement to social studies units.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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