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Jan Hudson.
Edmonton, AB: Tree Frog Press, 1984.
143pp., paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-88967-076-5 CIP.

Subject Headings:
Siksika Indians-Fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14

Reviewed by Robin Byrnes, assisted by Mecea Gould.

Volume 12 Number 4
1984 July

Jan Hudson's first novel, Sweetgrass, is a sensitive story about the coming of age of a nineteenth-century Blackfoot girl. The action takes place in southern Alberta in the winter of 1837-1838. In this thoroughly researched novel, Sweetgrass, a fifteen-year-old Blood girl, struggles toward womanhood and marriage to the man she loves, against a backdrop of social upheaval, smallpox, and famine.

The story, told from the perspective of the heroine, is a love story. It is also a story of courage, adventure, and the pain of growing up. The language is simple, poetic, and consistent with Sweetgrass's point of view. While historically accurate, the author never intrudes in a pedantic manner; it is Sweetgrass's story after all.

The low-key narrative voice may lose younger readers in the first chapters, but suspense, acts of bravery, and a satisfactory ending are the rewards for the persistent reader. The four-colour cover is appealing, the large pages and generous spacing easy to read. The bold print chapter headings are just revealing enough to entice the reader to continue.

Sweetgrass will appeal to the grade 6 to 9 reader interested in Blackfoot Indian tradition, love stories, or adventure. Includes a bibliography.

Robin Byrnes, Hythe P.L., assisted by Mecea Gould, grade 5 student, Hythe E.S., Hythe, AB.
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