HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Swift Arrow
Author: Josephine Cunnington Edwards
Illustrator: Ron Plante
Publisher: Teach Services Inc., republished 2016
Related website: http://www.TEACHServices.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Edwards, Josephine Cunnington. Swift Arrow (originally published in 1967 by Pacific Press Publishing Association; republished in 2007 by Teach Services Inc., P. O. Box 954, Ringgold, GA 30736). It is 1775, and seven year old George Augustus Boylan lives in Germantown, PA, with his father Marcus, mother Prudence, younger sister Zella, and the baby. Grandpa Boylan had emigrated from the Palantinate in Old World Germany to Massachusetts, then to New York, and finally to Pennsylvania because of its religious freedom. Now Marcus wants to take his family even further west and join with fourteen other families to establish a new settlement on the frontier. After they get there and build their cabin, George and his best friend Robert Stewart, who is not well physically and somewhat pampered by his family, are stolen by Indians.
Eventually, Robert is separated from George and taken away while George is adopted by Chief Big Wolf and named Swift Arrow. Some twelve years pass, and George learns to live according to Indian ways, but he never loses his desire to escape and return home—if he has one left. Then Big Wolf announces that he plans to name Swift Arrow as the next chief and betroth him to Ewanah, the chief’s own daughter. George decides that he must get away immediately. Can he make it and find his way back to the white settlement? Are his parents even still alive? And what ever happened to Robert? I must say that I really enjoyed reading this book. It has a lot of interesting background information on Pennsylvania history and American Indian culture. Author Josephine Cunnington Edwards has been a missionary to Africa and has written some 23 books.
Some might think that the Indians are portrayed in a mainly negative way, but Swift Arrow is reportedly based on a true story and appears simply to be presenting what actually happened. And it is not just anti-Indian. While George does not want to be an Indian, he learns to appreciate the kindnesses that the Indians show to him, and he even grows to respect Big Wolf. I especially liked one important message. When during his long ordeal George begins to wonder why God had let this unhappiness come to him, he remembers what his Pa had always said about suffering. “God doesn’t cause the suffering….But when things do go wrong, He does help us endure. And He has promised a great reward if we live right and keep our faith.” These are good words to live by.