A Review of "The People of Twelve Thousand Winters" in School library Journal
School Library Journal (May 2012)
Gr 2-4–Walking Turtle and Little Talk are children of the Lenni Lenape, living in an undetermined time in a region now part of New Jersey. They seem wise beyond their years as they convey the way of life and some of the cultural practices of their people. Ten-year-old Walking Turtle explains the relevance of his name. At his naming ceremony his mother was told, “He shall carry his people on his back, as steady and sure as a hard-shelled turtle….” He recounts how he has carried his cousin Little Talk on his back for some years because the younger boy was born with a crooked foot. Their families live together in “a three-fire lodge.” Walking Turtle describes the fall gathering of food and the Giving Thanks Ceremony in which the clan celebrates the coming change of season. Just before the evening’s festivities, his father explains to him that after the winter he must attend Warrior School. Sad that he will have to leave Little Talk behind, he takes the younger boy up to a rocky overhang where they have a heartening talk about their futures. “Walking Turtle, you are strong. I am giving you back your straight legs, your strong back, and your kind heart to take with you.” Nicely painted views of the surrounding terrain, daily activities, and the boys create a good sense of people and place, and the romanticized tale is a pleasant introduction to the Lenni Lenape. The author adds a concluding note about her inspiration for the story.
—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston