Ages 12 and up / Young Adult Fiction / RoadRunner Press
Win a set of LESSON OF THE WHITE EAGLE for your book club; enter to win by emailing the publisher. (write "Kidsbookclubbing - LESSON OF THE WHITE EAGLE" in the subject line).
One rowdy weekend -- not too many years ago -- a Native American man was killed in my hometown. The white man who did it got one-year in jail. That injustice spurred me to write my debut young adult novel, Lesson of the White Eagle, with the hope that I could help the next generation do better.
In my story, all fifteen-year-old Dusty Hamilton wants to do is go to his hometown's bash for the 1893 Land Run centennial. Instead, he finds himself a witness to a hate crime -- and he's driving the getaway car.
Then a mystical white eagle invades his dreams, taking Dusty back in time to watch the horrors the Poncas endured on their forced removal to Oklahoma Territory and the courageous stand taken on their behalf by one of the first civil rights activists in the United States -- the Ponca's own Chief Standing Bear.
Will Dusty learn the lessons the white eagle has to teach him? Will he learn that being a friend should never mean having to hate another? Or will he bow to the status quo? You'll have to read it to find out.
"Hay's story about the power of honor in an imperfect world has an inspirational message . . . . the story and history are solid."
- RT Book Reviews
1. What themes -- friendship, racism, bullying, family -- recur throughout the book? How does the author use and develop these themes? Do they work?
2. Why do certain characters act the way they do? What motivates Dusty Hamilton to do something that he would not normally do? Why does Dusty make excuses for Garret? Is there anything you would call "out of character"? Does the character grow over the course of the story?
3. Discuss the broader social issues that this book tries to address. Does the author believe different racial groups can coexist in a community? How are the two cultures -- the Ponca people and non-Natives -- portrayed in the book? Fairly? Unfairly? Favorably? Unfavorably?
4. Where could the story go from here? What do you see as the future of these characters? What would our lives be like if we lived in this story? Do you believe the community is portrayed as it actually exists? Could communities like it exist in other parts of the country?
5. How do you think treatment of Native Americans differs in small towns versus big cities, in western versus eastern states, in the north versus the south?
6. What did you like best about this story? What did you like least? What will you take away from this book?
To read excerpts and learn more about Barbara Hay, visit her website.
AUTHOR CALL-IN INFORMATION: Barbara Hay is happy to call in or skype with your club. She can also meet with your group if you live in the Boston area. Email her publisher to submit your request.