________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 7 . . . . November 24, 2006


Malian’s Song. (Vermont Folklife Centre Children’s Book Series).

Marge Bruchac. Illustrated by William Maughan.            
Middlebury, VT: The Vermont Folklife Center (Distributed by University Press of New England, 1 Court St., Lebanon, NH, 03766), 2005.
32 pp., cloth, $24.95.
ISBN 0-916718-26-3.

Subject Headings:
Abenaki Indians-History-Juvenile literature.
Abenaki Indians-Wars-Juvenile literature.
Saint Francis River Quebec)-History-Juvenile literature.
United States-History-French and Indian War, 1755-1763-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Fern Reirson.

**** /4


Then she heard a rustling noise in a bush, and saw a man hiding there. “Idam, akwi sagez,” he said, “do not be afraid.” “Ndapsizak, friend, kwawimbeba, I’ve come to warn you.” …He whispered ‘Awanagiak, strangers…come at dawn…burn village.’ And then disappeared!

At half hour before sunrise I surprised the town when they were all fast asleep…A little after sunrise I set fire to all their houses except three in which there was corn that I reserved for the use of the party…About seven o’clock in the morning the affair was completely over, in which time we had killed at least two hundred Indians..” [Exerpt from Robert Roger’s 1759  journal.]

“I just saw her as this lady that…was Indian, that talked Indian to her sister and her brother…[then] I realized that she knew this amazing piece of history, Abenaki history.  That no ethnologist or historian or non-Native person had every heard the Abenaki version…she got the story from her aunt, who got it from her grandmother, who was a little girl at the time of the Roger’s Raid in 1759.”[Marge Bruchac]


It is through the perspective of Malian, a young Abenaki girl who lives in a village near Montreal in the mid-18th century, that readers learn about a tragic conflict in North American history.  Written by Marge Bruchac, an Abenaki historian, Malian’s Song informs readers about an event in Abenaki history that has been passed down through oral tradition by women elders. The story recognizes the importance and value of the oral traditions of Aboriginal culture. A mixture of English and Abenaki enriches the text without distracting from the understanding and flow of the story. William Maughan’s illustrations are rich in colour and evoke the mood of the story’s settings through the use of sunlight, moonlight and firelight. The depiction of the Abenaki people portrays the influence of their Aboriginal heritage, as well as that of the French and English contact. The haunting image of a Catholic priest provides the crux of a grief shared across cultures.

internal art

     Malian’s Song, a work of historical fiction in picture book format, centers on an important, but neglected, tragedy in North American history. The explanation at the end of this fictional story explains the context of the Roger’s Raid on the St. Francis Abenaki on October 4th, 1759, by British troops and Mohican Indians. Robert Roger’s journal has since proved inaccurate, as 32 Abenaki died, with most of them being women and children while half of Roger’s men (43 Rangers) died during their retreat. This background information is useful in examining multiple perspectives and the possible inaccuracy of historical journals, resources which we too often rely upon as factual representations of historical events. This book provides upper elementary to young adult readers with a sensitive view of a tragic historical event. 

Highly Recommended

Fern Reirson is a teacher-librarian in Edmonton, AB.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.