Monday, October 24, 2011

Dar and the Spear-Thrower - marjorie Cowley

Publisher:  Clarion Books
Pages:  128
Genre:  Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Source:  One of our Class Novels

Dar and the Spear-Thrower is more than just a fictional coming of age story.  Through this book students learn about the last ice-age that took place in France.  Dar is a 13 year old boy who is about to become a man, "he hopes".  He has been raised by his grandmother and uncle.  His father was killed by a large cat and his mother died shortly after giving birth.  His uncle feels he failed his brother because he was unable to save him.  He did not want the responsibity of raising Dar.  Dar has a passion for carving, which his uncle thinks is useless.  When Dar's uncle is injured and he must empty his traps, he finds a stranger in their territory.  The stranger has a beautifully carved spear-thrower.  He sees Dar's sun-stones (used to start fires) and wants to trade.  When Dar tells his uncle his uncle considers him a fool for even considering  the trade.

After the initiation ceremony, Dar decides to seek out the stranger and trade his sun-stones for the spear-thrower.  This journey is about more than the trade.  This is a journey where Dar learns about his clan, himself and the strength he posesses inside.  This is one of our required novels and I can say that most of my students really like it.  The one thing I enjoyed was learning that the story was based on actual historical artifacts.  I discovered the sunstones were actually iron pirite.  Of course I didn't know what iron pirite was and learned it was fools gold.  An interesting  read that I would recommend to middle grade kids

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