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Sees Behind Trees by Michael Dorris

Sees Behind Trees (1996)

by Michael Dorris

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Wonderfully written, you can really understand what it is like to be severely nearsighted. Dorris writes sympathetically of a boy on the brink of becoming a man who is worried that he won't be good enough. As he fails again and again to shoot accurately, his mother realizes he can't see the target. We find there are many ways he has just figured out how to get along with poor sight, some of which help him pay attention to what most other people miss. He goes on a journey with an elder, and learns that being an adult often means keeping secrets.
The time and place are left vague, but we get the idea that this is a Native American (or Canadian) in pre-contact times. ( )
  juniperSun | Oct 15, 2018 |
In turns lyrical, wise, and funny, this compelling novel, set in sixteenth-century America, tells the story of how one Native American boy learns to turn handicap into an advantage as he crossed the often blurred boundaries between being a child and becoming a man.
  wichitafriendsschool | Oct 21, 2017 |
Sees Behind Trees is a work of historical fiction that focuses on the Native American Culture. Walnut is a boy who is coming of age. In Walnut’s culture, to be seen as a young man each boy must pass a test. Unfortunately, Walnut suffers from a vision impairment and cannot pass the traditional hunting test and he begins to worry about his future. However, when he passes a test that the other boys view as impossible, the whole village is in wonder of his abilities. When he is asked to go on a very special mission with one of the tribe’s elders, will he be able to accomplish the mission? Sees Behind Trees must dig deep within himself to succeed and survive this most difficult adventure.
Michael Dorris’s portrayal of the Native American culture is thoughtful and wise. He incorporates native teachings throughout the book with insights such as “It’s a mistake to let any one thing about yourself become that important.” (pg. 36) and “I had been hearing through it instead of hearing it.” (pg. 74) The characters are well developed and intriguing, leaving the reader with a sense of place within the story. The plot envelops the reader and has the perfect amount of suspense. This was a very enjoyable read. This is a great selection to teach literary elements and about finding strength even with a disability. ( )
  southpaw27 | Jun 29, 2016 |
I love this book, and I'd give it my highest recommendation to parents who have kids who are visually impaired--as I was, when I was a child. Those with clear vision can have no idea what it's like to see people and objects as blobs. So much is missed when we can't see the facial expressions of those we interact with. In my case, it made me withdrawn as a child. In this poignant story, "Walnut," who later becomes "See Behind Trees," is gently made to realize that he, too, is an integral part of his tribe, despite not seeing the way others see.
  gjchauvin504 | Sep 17, 2012 |
I liked this book. It mixed to interesting subject matters (Native Americans and disability) in a nice way. Very simple writing. ( )
  benuathanasia | Sep 9, 2012 |
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For Persia, who teaches me how to sing
For Pallas, who teaches me how to laugh
For Aza, who teaches me how to dance
For Louise, who teaches me how to listen
First words
"Try harder, track it with your eye before you shoot."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
This fictional book teaches the reader that what we think is a handicap can be the most beneficial to a group of people or society and can contribute as much or more than what we think. Walnut, a young American Indian boy who is coming of age, cannot see very well to pass his test to become a man due to his poor eyesight. Because his eyesight is poor, he learns to use his ears as his eyes which helps him to become a man. Because he can do this, he is able to help other people. He learns to be confident and finds a way to overcome his handicap.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786813571, Paperback)

The best adolescent fiction offers more than an escape from teenage turmoil; it instructs as it entertains, giving young readers a view into lives--fictional though they may be--outside their own. Without sentimentality or preachiness but with clear awareness of this power, Michael Dorris tells the story of Walnut, a young Native American boy. Because Walnut can't see well, he has difficulty meeting the challenges, especially feats of skill with bow and arrow, that prove he is ready to receive a new name and become an adult. When a sympathetic uncle invents a new contest to "see what can't be seen," the boy's other senses bring success and earn him the name Sees Behind Trees. Dorris could easily stop there, but he nudges the youngster onward through a series of trials that show adulthood is about more than getting there. (Ages 8 and up)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:36 -0400)

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A Native American boy with a special gift to "see" beyond his poor eyesight journeys with an old warrior to a land of mystery and beauty.

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