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Monday, November 04, 2013

Just Finished Reading... Ghost Hawk!

Susan Cooper's Ghost Hawk is sitting on my iBooks shelf, just finished yesterday. I learned about its existence on a blog post by someone who had just been to hear her interviewed(and what an interesting background! She has heard Tolkien lecture!). The blogger described herself as a Susan Cooper fan girl and, I must admit, so am I. I remember going to a library conference in Hobart at which she was the guest of honour, along with Jan Needle.

Jan was a delight, a very funny man, considering he wrote depressing YA novels, but we could all talk to him comfortably because we weren't major fans of his, though I did try to read more of his stuff after meeting him. But Susan Cooper was surrounded by a bunch of female teacher-librarians who could barely think of anything to say to her because they were such fans. I was one of them. And this was despite the fact that I had once written her a letter, back in the days before email and Goodreads, and had a reply. I found an address for her in a reference book on children's writers in the State Library. These days, she has a Goodreads profile, but you can't friend her, only become a fan, so no opportunity to communicate. Perhaps she was getting too much fan mail to answer, or her agent or publisher advised her to set up some social media profiles, but not to make herself available for contact - after all, if you answer fan mail, you aren't writing while you answer, and that means less money for the agent or publisher(which is odd because my first publisher encouraged answering children's fan mail). Still, it's ironic that I could write to her directly in the days before the Internet, but not now.

Ghost Hawk is a typically beautiful Susan Cooper book, a fantasy set in the early days of the settlement of America. Little Hawk, a Native American boy, is the narrator, but I can't say much more about him without spoilers. It's also about John, a white boy who is considered rather too sympathetic to the indigenous people. Reading this, especially the author's afterword, makes you realise just what a poor deal the Native Americans have had over the centuries. I mean, we know about it, but this gives you the gory details. Even Presidents you're supposed to admire, such as Lincoln, did horrible things to the indigenous folk who, by the way, didn't even get the vote till after everyone else, including women and African-Americans!

I also learned, to my delight, that the couple who befriended Ishi, the last member of the Yahi tribe(the whites had wiped out the rest of them) were the parents of the wonderful Ursula K LeGuin!

I am always going to love The Dark Is Rising best, but this one is at least as good as King Of Shadows and The Boggart, two of my other favourite Cooper novels.

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