A Review of "The People of Twelve Thousand Winters" in Children's Literature
Walking Turtle of the Lenni Lenape lives with his people along the Passaic River in what will one day become the state of New Jersey. He is very kind to his young cousin Little Talk who with his crooked foot depends on Walking Turtle to carry him wherever he goes. Walking Turtle’s family lives in a longhouse and while the women and girls gathers wild berries and herbs for cooking his father Soaring Hawk trades beaver pelts and deerskins for things the people need. Walking Turtle explains the Giving Thanks Ceremony held in the Big House that celebrates the Creator and the appearance of White Antler who utters words of praise for all that has been given to them. When Walking Turtle’s father tells him that the next winter he must go to the warrior school, Walking Turtle is afraid that he will fail and bring dishonor to his family. It is Little Talk’s wise words that assure Walking Turtle that his straight legs, strong back, and kind heart will make him a great leader. This gentle exploration of the culture of an ancient people at one with their world details their daily life while wrapping it all within the story of a young boy on the cusp of manhood. The handsome paintings with a crackle texture capture the beauty of the land and the gentle nature of a proud people.