Lisa's Reviews > The Great Death

The Great Death by John E. Smelcer
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Jun 04, 11

bookshelves: star-reader-2011-2012, waw-2011-2012
Read in May, 2011

Thirteen year old Millie is responsible for looking after her younger sister Maura. Whenever Maura lingers or gets into mischief, Millie is held responsible. She considers Maura a real pest. But when small pox destroys their entire remote Alaskan village save Millie and Maura, both girls realize they will have to put aside their childish concerns to bear the sadness and brutal winter ahead. Millie is determined to find a settlement downriver. They simply can't stay in their village alone for the winter. They bury their parents, put together the necessities they think they will need for a long wilderness trek and shove off in the canoe. There is no other sign of human life as they travel. Soon, the gentle river turns into swirling, rushing, dangerous whitewater. Their canoe is smashed and they lose many of provisions but survive. On foot, they face many perils, from hunger and frostbite to moose and bear. They stumble upon a cabin inhabited by a white man. At first he is very nice and brings them in to warm up and eat. But later that night, a more sinister side is revealed and the girls end up running from the cabin without their other meager possessions. The great death is a tale of adventure and survival. The girls are quite tenacious and courageous in the face of so much adversity and grief. I liked it, but didn't love it. Fans of Smelcer's The Trap or Diamond Willow by Helen Frost would be a natural audience for this book.
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