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The Broken Blade (Pierre La Page #1)
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The Broken Blade (Pierre La Page #1)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  557 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
In 1800, 13-year-old Pierre La Page never imagined he'd be leaving Montreal to paddle 2,400 miles. It was something older men, like his father, did. But when Pierre's father has an accident, Pierre quits school to become a voyageur for the North West Company, so his family can survive the winter. It's hard for Pierre as the youngest in the brigade. From the treacherous wat ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 6th 1998 by Yearling (first published 1997)
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Noah Smith
Jan 26, 2014 Noah Smith rated it really liked it
Coming of age stories tend to all blend together in my head and I feel like I'm reading the same thing over and over. Someone has a neglectful parent and then goes on an emotional journey with the help of an odd assortment of characters and they are never the same again. Well this is kind of like the Broken Blade...except it's during the 1800's, the father is a French-American river courier who accidentally chopped his own thumb off in a logging accident just before he's about to leave for a shi ...more
The other John
The setting is Montréal in 1800. Pierre La Page is a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, who's doing rather well. His father is a voyageur, one of the men who paddle cargo canoes from Montréal to Grand Portage, all the way on the northwest shore of Lake Superior. Well, Dad has an accident that will keep him from shipping out on the next cargo run. Motivated in part by guilt, Pierre skips class, heads down to the North West Company office and signs on as a voyageur to make the money that his father cann ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Gerri rated it liked it
This one is a fun one to read if you like adventure and history. My kids and I read it together when they were about 9 and 10. We also were going up to the great lakes and the area were these stories took place. It is a fairly easy read and fun with the kids.
Mar 03, 2012 Heidi rated it liked it
Shelves: family-book-club
A good book. We read it for family book club as a follow up to Calico Captive. We learned a lot about geography and history. I did not think it was a literary masterpiece. But I did find it to be enjoyable and interesting.
Mar 05, 2017 Bill rated it it was amazing
Great historical fiction for young readers (and old)!
Sep 29, 2010 Gillian rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like interesting history novels
Shelves: owned
In the beginning, I thought, "This is going to be just like most of my other history books." In other words, I thought it was going to be boring. But I was wrong! I read a week ahead and finished this book in about 3 hours.

I really prepared myself for a dumb book in the beginning. When a book starts off with a young boy waking up to the sound of his father cutting wood, it really doesn't encourage further reading. But, on I went. Things started getting good (more interesting) when Pierre gets hi
Thomas Townsend
Sep 28, 2012 Thomas Townsend rated it it was amazing
The broken Blade is a great book to read. It is full of information on how life was working for the Northwest Trading Company 200 years ago. This book is about a young boy, Pierre La Page, who goes to work for the Northwest Trading Company to provide for his family. Pierre finds himself paddling a canoe 2,400 miles to Grand Portage where they will trade their goods for fur pelts. While on the trip Pierre finds himself changing from a young boy into a man. Pierre is my favorite character because ...more
Oct 26, 2011 Jeremiah rated it really liked it
Shelves: done-2
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Rossokhina
Sep 30, 2013 Anna Rossokhina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who interested in history events
Recommended to Anna by: my friend
The Broken Blade - a historical book which tells people the long adventure story of thirteen years old boy. His name is Pierre La Page and his father was a voyager for the Northwest Trading Company.For me it seems really interesting because you can learn a lot of new things about this period of time, about river trade,about how was life difficult for those people. William Durbin created a useful story. When you read this story you probably will admire of little Pierre because he saves his family ...more
Kendra Horn
Feb 18, 2016 Kendra Horn rated it it was amazing
In this book, Pierres dad has to goes on a canoe trip every year. Right before the trip Pierres dad severs his thumb with an ax. Because of this accident, Pierres dad can't go on the trip. Pierre offers to step up and take his dad's place. The lesson I learned from this is responsibility. You have to be ready to step up and know the right thing to do. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to learn while reading. I enjoyed learning more about having to be tough while canoeing. I really ...more
Miss Amanda
gr 5-8 163 pgs

1800 Montreal to Lake Superior Canada. 13 year old Pierre La Page must quit school when his father's injury prevents him from working as a voyageur with the fur trade. Having grown up listening his father's stories of his voyages, Pierre is eager to become a voyageur. On the 2400 mile journey, Pierre must overcome many challenges and dangers.

I would recommend this book, and its sequel "Wintering" to readers who enjoyed Gary Paulsen's Hatchet books and who liked Durbin's "Blackwater
Grazyna Nawrocka
Oct 23, 2014 Grazyna Nawrocka rated it it was amazing
This book is a winner of the Great Lakes Book Award. “The Broken Blade” by William Durbin is a compelling read for juvenile audience. It is a tale of 13-years-old Pierre enlisting to work as a voyageur to support his family. This book is filled with factual detail and brilliant humour. The style is so great, one feels like being inside the canoe and seeing the landscape with own eyes. After reading this novel, I became intimately familiar with the Great Lakes and route taken to deliver furs to/f ...more
Nov 03, 2011 Alyssa added it
I read this book for Social Studies. We are on the unit for the Fur Trade. This book is about a 13-14 year old boy that signs up for the NW Trading Company so he can support his family after hid father had an accident. Then he has to leave his family, and head to the go to the Grand Portage to trade. i am surprised that I likes this book as much as I did. It was actually a very well written book! There is a sequel that seems very interesting as well. I may read that in the future.
Sep 22, 2008 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the known hardships, I would like to experience being a voyageur as a man. Since luck has not been with agreement with me, I will read about it instead.

Durbin writes fantastic historical fiction with just the right amount of detail. Each chapter is headed with a map showing the progress the voyageur's made. If you have any interest in Great Lakes history, check this book out!
Jun 29, 2016 LakeGal rated it it was amazing
I was excited to read this book after meeting Mr Durbin at a Young Authors conference this spring,and I was also particularly interested in the topic after recently visiting Grand Portage National Monument and watching a movie about the Voyageurs. This is a great story, well written, and a fascinating part of my state's history. I would recommend this book to youth and adults.
Jul 18, 2016 LuAnn rated it really liked it
Easy reading with a likable protagonist and good introduction to voyageur life one summer in the Great Lakes area. Hard to believe Pierre's only 13, but then kids grew up faster then. Really about 3.5 stars but I round up.
Mar 09, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: homeschool-co-op
This book started out very slow. There wasn't any foul language, but I was worried in places that there was going to be. After the first few chapters, the story picked up and the characters was developed. I recommend this book for everyone ages 11+.
Oct 23, 2010 Brianne rated it it was amazing
I remember having to reading this in seventh grade for english and I convinced myself to think I was going to hate this book because it looked so dumb and boring. About the sixth chapter I couldn't put it down until the very end. :)
Feb 05, 2008 Angela rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
My nephew loaned me this book because he really loves it. I can see why. It's full of action, has great characters, lots of action, a good amount of history, and lots of action. Did I mention the action? It's pretty great.
Aug 31, 2009 Josette rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-youth
I'd never heard of the voyageurs (French Canadian canoe ferry men) before this book. Emily read it too and we both enjoyed.
Dec 13, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Very readable and excellent pacing (meaning: not drowning in meaningless details). Read this to my 12- and 9-year-olds as part of world history "class."
A great look at one of the most exciting jobs in Canadian history. We really enjoyed it as a read-aloud.
Ally McKinnis
Dec 02, 2010 Ally McKinnis rated it it was amazing
Great book! Author Will Durbin gives a sense that he knows EXACTLY what the experience was like, and makes the book so much more enjoyable!
A nicely done coming-of-age story that will help tweens to visualize the life of a voyageur. All the better if they have visited Grand Portage or the wilderness areas between it and Montreal.
Nov 06, 2008 Korrin rated it really liked it
I read this book in sixth grade for a school project. A very good overview of the Fur Trade from the perspective of a voyageur. A great book!
Mar 15, 2009 Randy rated it really liked it
Adventure Canada - voyageurs
Mar 07, 2012 Lecia rated it it was amazing
These are the kind of books I like.
Lisa Spieker
Dec 10, 2014 Lisa Spieker rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the book so much that I gave it to my husband to read. This book is a great way to show the younger crowd what it was like in the trader/pioneer days. Much action and adventure.
Ginny Churchill
Apr 28, 2010 Ginny Churchill rated it really liked it
reading it for school, pretty good so far
Oct 19, 2012 Debbie rated it really liked it
Gives "paddling" a perspective for our Hawaiian learners. Enjoyed a deeper understanding of Canadian voyageurs, would've liked the map to trace the journey better. Aptly titled.
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William Durbin is an author and teacher who lives at the edge of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Wilderness. The winner of both the Great Lakes Book Award and the Minnesota Book award, Mr. Durbin has published numerous books for young readers. Mr. Durbin has also published poetry and essays, and has supervised writing research projects for the NCTE, Middlebury College, and the Bingham Trust for Charit ...more
More about William Durbin...

Other Books in the Series

Pierre La Page (2 books)
  • Wintering (Pierre La Page #2)

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