I didn’t know what to expect of a Scott O’Dell novel. To be honest, whenever I see his books I sort of gloss over them and move on to other books. However, in one shopping spree at my favorite second hand book store I found myself picking up everything that had a Newbery Honor/Award on it. One of those was this book Sing Down the Moon.
Sing Down the Moon is about the ‘white men’ driving out the Navaho Indians to Camp Sumner, what is known in Navaho History as the Long walk. A walk that spanned 300 miles. Though I know very little of American History, this part of the story resonated with me as a Filipino. It reminded me of the Bataan Death Walk. Having recently driven through the Bataan route, I knew that wasn’t an easy feat.
The book’s language is simple and easy to understand. The narrative is plain and yet sincere. It resonates to those who have been colonized and driven out of their own homes. It portrays the endurance and perseverance of people in the hands of cruel colonizers. The novel is narrated through the eyes of Bright Morning, a very apt name for someone who believed that she could come back home.
Sing Down the Moon was surprisingly moving. I recommend it to be read by kids, young adults and even adults. The American Indian story is fascinating and their understanding of nature and belief in omens resonate to cultures with similar beliefs. From this book, I took away not only an understanding of some of the American Indian’s history, but an understanding of my own Filipino story. There are those who succumb to colonization for comfort and those who only recognize one home.
Scott O’ Dell was an American children’s author. He wrote 26 novels for youngsters alongside three adult novels and four nonfiction books. He is famously known for his books: Island of Blue Dolphin, The King’s Fifth, Black Star Bright Dawn, The Black Pearl and Sing Down the Moon. He mostly wrote historical fiction.