Reviews of Enemy Arrows
I have finished reading Enemy Arrows and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it! I was captivated by the story line and eagerly anticipated each new chapter. I learned a great deal about the First Peoples of Canada and couldn't help comparing this early society with the others we traditionally teach at the grade 3/4 level (Ancient Civilizations as well as Medieval Britain). My students are always asking me about what was going on in Canada during Medieval Times and now I can share with them what life was like for the Wendat.
The fact that the main protagonist in the story is a child is a bonus as the curriculum asks us to help our students understand how their lives are similar to or different from children in early societies. I love the way you reveal important messages, too--the fact that the Wendat cared for the environment, only taking (or using) what they needed and always replanting (to ensure that there will be strawberries, for example, for the next season), recycling (canoes, for example), making use of resources in nature (for example, tools from animal bones), never wasting; they cared about their larger community, sharing what they had with others, working with offenders, offering forgiveness, and solving problems with actions and words.
There are lots of opportunities to discuss character (the character's voice, deeds, thoughts, and feelings), contrasting ways of life (the nomadic hunters versus the stationary hunters and farmers), the important role of the Wanderer, the story problem and whether or not it is resolved, the concept of war as a way to solve problems.... I know my students will thoroughly enjoy this story and so I will read it to them as a "read aloud" as some of the vocabulary is a little difficult for 8-9 year old children. We will be able to record our learning about the Wendat peoples as well as discuss important questions.
I think the book would make a great teaching tool for many different grade levels, especially since the new Social Studies Curriculum has a heightened focus on aboriginal contributions to Canadian society.
Karen MacGillivray, Grade 4 Teacher* * * * *
On behalf of the staff and students at Parkside, I would like to thank you for the wonderful presentation you gave on Thursday. Everyone was impressed with your wealth of knowledge and easy manner with the children.
The students were clearly very interested in the artifacts and the drawings of native life. The paintings are absolutely beautiful.
They were also enthralled with the captivating reading of Chapter One, and would like to hear more. It was a perfect end to their recent studies of native life.
Linda Box, Parkside Public School, Toronto* * * * *
A long overdue thank you for coming to our book club. It was a magical evening and by all accounts, one of our favourite, if not the favourite, book club meetings yet. So interesting to be inspired to think about the history of a neighbourhood in which we otherwise live our busy lives.
Kathy C.* * * * *
A great read. Even though this is a fictional work, Mr. O`Hara has researched his facts well. He makes it seem as if the characters are real, telling the story of the Wyandot Huron Nation as they lived in the early years. Having visited the areas of Crawford Lake and the surrounding area I felt as if I were there.
She who string weaves* * * * *
I finally got into Enemy Arrows and really enjoyed it. I did not expect to be swept along so fully but suddenly realized I was being pulled along. The descriptions are evocative, such as the one about The Wanderer's canoe stitched with spruce roots and seams reflecting the colours, the textures and memories from his voyages. I found it interesting how the body paint in one chapter was so ornamental and cheery as to make them feel like eagles, whereas the war paint worn by the raiding party, especially the war chief's death mask was nothing but evil. Same process, two diametrically opposed results.
The reference to the constant presence of mosquitoes and the descriptions of the slaying of the bear and the moose un-glamourized the taking of food from the forest, unlike our sanitized process of bringing a chicken breast or a steak to the table.
Great job of having Willow confront [REDACTED] in the unfolding battle and it really drove home the importance of valuing peace over war, the terrible price people pay even when they win. All in all, a great job!
Eric Murphy* * * * *
I have read Enemy Arrows, and I loved it. Congratulations, it's really fantastic, so well researched and well told. I was really captivated by the story, and the history. And I really admired your treatment of the theme of war.
Martha Scott, Librarian* * * * *
This is a pleasant read that transports the reader to a simpler time with complex issues of survival for the original people of Toronto. The story is set amid the unspoiled beauty of the lakes, rivers and surrounding forests in 1420. It is an engaging story about love and loss and life...laced with spirituality. The illustrations by Tom McNeely vividly align the imagination with reality! A must read for every Canadian.
Anne Gniewek* * * * *
Your great book.
I just wanted to write and let you know how much I enjoyed reading Enemy Arrows. I read the first few chapters by flashlight in our cold house during the power cut just before Christmas. - I was really feeling the cold with your description of the young hunters out in the snow and Otter being rescued from under the ice!
I always enjoy reading books set in a locale that I know. My grandson lives at the bottom of St Mark’s Road hill, just below the site of the village on Baby Point. We gave him the book and could show him on the map right where he lives today. I am hoping that Noah, and Sarah and Amy who also got the book, will enjoy your wonderful story and learn about some of the ways of the Wendat. Do you go to schools and talk about your book? And when does the sequel come out???
Lynne Salt* * * * *
I have nearly finished reading Enemy Arrows and am very impressed. The first chapter really drew me in to the story and I wanted to keep reading. The descriptions are original and evocative. I will definitely catalogue it as soon as school returns and put it on the shelf but not before I sell it to the children by reading the first chapter orally to the juniors. I am certain there will be some scrambling to be the first to read it.
I have submitted Enemy Arrows to the Forest of Reading Program run by the Ontario Library Association for 2014-15 at the Red Maple Level.
Linda Box, Teacher and Librarian* * * * *
I wanted to say how much I enjoyed Enemy Arrows. Often I have trouble remembering the content of books I read last week, if they haven't impressed, but I still have a strong sense of being in the book even though I reluctantly put it down quite a while back. It gives such an amazing picture of the lives of the Wendat and I'm intrigued as to how much material is available from which to discover that level of detail and how much comes from your imagination. The next time we're together I shall pester you with questions! But for now I just want to say that I think it's amazing and extremely impressive.