Scarlett Sims's Reviews > Little Brother Real Snake

Little Brother Real Snake by Billy Moore
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's review
May 03, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: children-s, historical-fiction, multicultural, native-american
Read on May 03, 2010

Here is just a quick run-down of the problems I had with this book:

0 (i edited this in later). In the promotional materials for this books, it says "pull out your peace pipe and gather around the drum." No, just... no.
1. At no point does it say the tribal affiliation of the protagonist. It mentions other tribes, but not his. It says he belongs to the "Real People." I get that this could be what the word they use to refer to themselves means (like Dine) but it would still be useful if they used a word that was recognizable to the reader.
2. There are a bunch of typical Native American stereotypes. Everyone is at one with nature, everyone has names like "spotted owl" or "pale moon," there is a scalping incident, etc.
3. Refers to the native americans with words like "squatting" etc. Also the author uses the word "lope" to describe how Red Squirrel (the protagonist) moves way too many times.
4. The protagonist is respected for being different and not doing things the way others do (i.e. not liking to kill enemies or animals). I just don't know how realistic that is, I guess. It seems like not doing the things that would bring you honor wouldn't bring you more honor. Then again, since I don't know what tribe the book is about there is no way to check on that.
5. The protagonist is constantly exclaiming "aiyee" or "ai-yee!" which sounds like a really stereotypical "indian" noise.

Aside from the cultural content, the book just isn't good. From a plot standpoint, I just couldn't get into it. Even if the BACK COVER OF THE BOOK didn't say that at the end he confronts his fear (snakes) and gets the girl, I wouldn't have been surprised. The narrative just wasn't interesting. At the beginning, it sort of alternates between flashbacks and then what Red Squirrel is actually doing, but the author abandons that pretty quickly.

I almost didn't want to tag this book as historical fiction. It is fiction that takes place in the past but it isn't even clear what time period. Red Squirrel is aware of white settlers, but that's not really important to the story. I'm guessing 1850s or so, maybe a little earlier, but I just don't get why this book was written. The fact that the characters were Native American was completely incidental to the story. He could have written a coming-of-age book set in the present day with almost identical events.

There also was no author's note. Since there wasn't any historical content per se to comment on, I guess I get that.

Honestly, I feel bad giving a bad review. I think this is the first really bad review I've given. I don't like to say that I hate what someone else put into the world and presumable thought was good. But really I wish I hadn't read this book. I can see like a 10-12 year old boy liking it. There is some gore and violence. But it is just so bad.

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