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The Courage of Sarah Noble (1954)
by Alice Dalgliesh
No current Talk conversations about this book.
While it was a sweet story about a pioneer girl having the courage to be left alone with an Indian tribe, consideration has to be taking while reading the title. The Native Americans in the story are referred to as Indians and often white ideas (such as renaming the family so she could pronounce their names, the fact that they do not wear clothing like her and that they are meant to be feared) have influence over the story. However, the characters of the Robinsons who other reviewers do mentioned to voice their horrible attitudes towards the Indians ( "they will chop off your head", "they will skin you alive", etc), in the book's defense Sarah and her father do have a lot of respect towards Tall John and his family. Sarah also mentions that "there is no love in that [The Robinson's] house". Keep in mind to start conversations upon reading.
To a 21st century reader this is so insensitive and there is so much that is cringe-worthy. But it was written 70 years ago and set 300 years ago, so it's not fair to judge it based on modern sensibilities. She's afraid of the Indians until she meets them and makes friends with the children. But she never bothers to learn the name of the tribe, never learns a single word of their language, or even bothers to learn their names. She lives for months with "Tall John," "his squaw," "Small John," and "Mary" because she just assigned them English names for her own convenience. Presumably the woman who fed her everyday, sewed winter clothes for her, and cared for was never even assigned a name.
In this short novella for children, we meet Sarah Noble, a girl living in the early eighteenth century. She is preparing to move to Connecticut, in a time when people still built their own houses and developed their own land, food, and everything they need to survive. Sarah and her father are moving ahead of the rest of the family, including the new baby, to prepare everything for them. As such, Sarah has to take on a lot of responsibility and show courage in the face of all the challenges that moving brings. She's particularly frightened by rumors of the native tribes living in the area. However, once she actually meets some members of the Schaghticoke tribe, she realizes that they are people, just like her. They even help her and her father establish themselves in their new home.
It's a sweet story about survival, courage, and overcoming prejudices. It was published in 1954, and when I first started reading, I was worried that this awarded children's book would reflect upsetting biases common to its generation, particularly in its depiction of Native Americans. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The book has a positive message encouraging understanding. There are certainly issues surrounding the context of this book, such as the settlement of land that probably originally belonged to the Schaghticoke tribe. Yet within the reality of that past, it's an uplifting story about surviving, and about two cultures working together and learning from each other, and that's a nice message for kids to take away with them.
This book is about a true story about a young girl who travels with her father in the 1700s to a new land. She comes in contact with Native Americans and learns that they are friendly. She also learns a lot about herself and bravery. It is a great read!
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Remembering her mother's words, an eight-year-old girl finds courage to go alone with her father to build a new home in the Connecticut wilderness and to stay with the Indians when her father goes back to bring the rest of the family.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813Literature English (North America) American fiction
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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.