YA Book Central reviews “Cady and the Bear Necklace”

What worked:
The book features modern-day Indians living in Upper Michigan and the importance of preserving their heritage. Cady takes a 20-minute bus ride to attend an Indian school even though a public school is located only minutes from her home. Her father isn’t knowledgeable about their tribe’s history but he thinks it’s important for Cady to learn. Cady is respectful of her Indian past and is open to this learning, an attitude not shared by all young people. She jumps at the chance to interview a friend’s grandmother for a school project, and that’s when the book jumps into the meat of the plot.
The mystery of an old beaded necklace with a bear figure attached consumes Cady’s character. The conflict arises while she’s interviewing John Ray’s grandmother. The woman happily answers all of Cady’s questions until she asks about a photograph that had dropped to the floor. The woman becomes terse and agitated and tells Anna she needs to leave. This severe contrast in moods creates confusion for readers and Cady spends the rest of the book trying to uncover the story behind the necklace. Why won’t anyone talk about it? Readers will learn more about Cady’s family history as well as the tribe’s heritage and customs.
Cady is the main character and the story faces many challenges. Her relationship with her father changes after he remarries and her stepmother seems more like an older sister. Cady loves her baby brother but his presence changes the family dynamics, as he demands constant attention. Also, Cady has feelings for John Ray but she’s not sure how he feels about her. Her principal tells her that finding an eagle’s feather might be a sign from the spirits that she needs to complete a special task or solve a mystery. There are too many clues to be a coincidence and Cady is confused as to why she’s been given the task. The grandmother’s reaction to the photograph and Cady finding a hidden necklace make her determined to understand the history behind it.

What didn’t work as well:
An effective hook in the opening chapters of this short book would help grab readers right away. Sharing Cady’s problems with school, living with a very young stepmother, a new baby brother, and learning about her Indian heritage don’t do it. Once the bear necklace is introduced, the story becomes a mystery and carries the rest of the plot, although the conflict lacks strong emotions and tension.

The Final Verdict:
Trust the power within yourself. The most enjoyable part of the book is the emphasis on Indian heritage and culture. Times are changing and it’s important to honor the history of our ancestors. Resolving the mystery of the necklace feels more like a personal project than an actual conflict, so the story would be improved with more suspense or drama. Overall, I enjoyed the book and recommend it to readers who like Indian storytelling

Read the entire review on YA Book Central

Cady and the Birchbark Box [PB]

SKU 978-1-61599-651-3
$16.95
Cady Whirlwind Thunder Mystery #2
In stock
1
Product Details

In Cady and the Birchbark Box, Cady Whirlwind Thunder solves the mystery behind a weathered journal found inside an old birchbark box. Why was the box buried behind a deserted garage? This is the question her friend and "crush," John Ray Chicaug, asks Cady after the two of them find it. And what meaning do the notes in the book have? Cady's grandma and her ever-present companion, a noisy blue jay, encourage her as she puts together the pieces and ultimately restores the reputation of a deceased elder. Cady does all this while navigating through another school year, earning a place on the school's soccer team and continuing to calm her temper and adjust to life with a new stepmother and baby brother.

"I love Cady and the Birchbark Box. I read it with my daughter, who is very interested in Native American culture. The book is a fun adventure, sprinkled with history and culture. It is a great book for kids and adults alike. Great read!"-- August Brill, M.S., bilingual teacher, Chicago public schools
"This well-crafted, beautiful novel immerses readers in the elegance of Native American culture as it delivers an emotional, intriguing mystery that readers from middle grade through adults will enjoy. Highly recommended! "-- Christine DeSmet, author of Fudge Shop Mystery Series

"Ann Dallman's writing is a teacher's dream come true. Cady is a character students can relate to and learn from. While Cady is learning about her Native American culture and traditions, readers become immersed in a culture they may not have knowledge of." -- Gina Zanon, 5th-grade teacher, Menominee, MI

"Another great mystery with our strong Anishnaabe Kwe Cady! As with the first book in this series, Cady and the Birchbark Box gives the reader insight into life on a Native American Reservation while also taking them on an exciting journey! The characters feel authentic and the use of Native traditions sprinkled throughout makes this book feel like home. I got sucked into the story immediately and love a good mystery! Native readers (children and adults alike) will feel seen and I wish I had this series to read when I was a child. I am thrilled that my children will grow up with Cady on their bookshelf. We will read of her adventures while drinking ginger ale and sitting outside with the blue jays. Until next time Cady, bama pi." --Larissa Wandahsega, Hannahville Indian Community member

Learn more at www.AnnDallman.com

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