Monday, January 28, 2019

Chula the Fox by Anthony Perry

Sometimes life just doesn't give us what we think we want most in the world, but leads us down a totally unexpected path. Chula, a Chickasaw teen on the verge of manhood, is sure he wants to be a brave warrior just like his father, his uncle and his now deceased older brother. But Chula is small for his age and feels like he needs to prove himself more then most of the boys his age, especially Nukni, his nemesis who repeatedly goes after him both physically and verbally, never letting him forget his smaller size.

One day, while out hunting with his father, his uncle and other members of his tribe, Chula brings down his first deer. His pride at this achievement is short lived when the hunting party is attacked by a group of Choctaw warriors. Chula's father is badly wounded by a shot in the shoulder, and Nukni's uncle is killed, a devastating loss for him.

Sadly, when they return home, the wound in Chula's father's shoulder proves to be fatal for the strong warrior and Chula experiences his own devastating loss. Now, both Chula and Nukni want revenge for their losses, so that the spirits of their deceased loved ones can find peace. In fact, the whole tribe wants revenge, and it is decided that Chickasaw would attack the Choctaw right after the Green Corn Ceremony, the harvest, and also a time of forgiveness and purification. In the meantime, the young boys, including Chula, would be prepared to become warriors so that they can participate in the attack.

But does Chula have what it takes to be a warrior, or will he find himself a leader of his people in an entirely different capacity?

I loved reading The Birchbark House series. It offers readers a wonderful story and insight into the 19th century life of the Ojibwe people in what is now Minnesota. Young readers who read this series will certainly want to read Chula the Fox. Chula's story is set in the early part of the 18th century, and it, too, gives readers a clear window into the daily life of the Chickasaw people living in the Chickasaw Homeland (today's Mississippi).

Chula the Fox is narrated in the first person by Chula. As the story moves along, he provides a lot of interesting detail about everyday life, including family relationships, traditions, ceremonies, games, hunting practices, and warrior training. Chula's relationship with his father, mother, uncle, and especially his younger sister Pakali is respectful and loving. It was wonderful to see how, after Chula's father passed away, his uncle stepped right in to mentor him into adulthood. Perry has really researched these historical details well, and weaves them throughout the story seamlessly.

Perry was inspired to write Chula the Fox after his father passed away and he realized he was losing his connection to his Native heritage. You can read about this in his own words HERE. 

I found Chula the Fox to be a fascinating and inspiring historical fiction coming of age story, with elements that we can all relate to, such as Chula's sorrow at losing his father, his love for his family, but it is definitely a uniquely Native story, which taught me much about Chickasaw history.

Sensitive readers should know that there is some violence in the fight scenes and animals are killed but Perry makes it very clear that is it not done for sport but for survival.

Chula the Fox is a book that will particularly appeal to historical fiction fans, and/or readers interested in Native American history, as well as anyone looking for a well written, well-plotted adventure novel.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
Thank you to the author and the publisher, Chickasaw Press, for providing me with a review copy of this book.

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