HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: My Brother the Wind
Author: G. Clifton Wisler
Publisher: Paperjacks, republished 1987
ISBN-13: 978-0385148221 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0385148224 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0770105105 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0770105106 Paperback
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 13 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Wisler, G. Clifton. My Brother the Wind (published in 1979 by Doubleday and Company, Garden City, NY). It is 1869, and eight year old Timothy Tobias Welles, born in 1861, lives on the family farm in the Ohio River valley along with his six older siblings. His father, Capt. John Timothy Welles, was killed during the Civil War in 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh. His oldest brother Joseph married Helen Glebov in 1864. Later that year his mother died. In 1866, an older sister Martha married Ronald Pierson and moved to Oregon. Finally, it is decided that the farm will pass to Joseph and Helen. Brothers Thomas and Isaac plan to join Martha in Oregon, and Timothy determines to go with them. As they begin the journey, they are joined in Cincinnati by Mr. and Mrs. Hudson and their fourteen year old son Jerome, who befriends Timothy. At Ft. Laramie, Thomas and Isaac change plans and head for the Colorado gold rush, sending Timothy with the Hudsons to catch the wagon train on to Oregon.
However, on the third day out of Ft. Laramie, the four, still travelling alone, are attacked by a Cheyenne war party. The Hudsons are all killed, and Timothy is captured, but is unexpectedly rescued by a mountain man named Bear who raises him as his own, and faces a new life as a mountain man himself. He chooses the name of “Wind.” Injured and mistreated by the Indians, can Timothy survive the harsh conditions of the wilderness, especially the coming winter? Does he ever make it to Martha in Oregon? And will he see Thomas and Isaac again? Author G. Clifton Wisler (born 1950) is a teacher who has written more than sixty-three books, many of them are historical fiction for young adults. I have previously read and reviewed his novel Jericho’s Journey.
My Brother the Wind, which was a National Book Award Finalist for Western in 1980, is an enjoyable story. There is no bad language. Thomas and Isaac are said to visit a “bawdy house” in St. Louis, and Timothy has to wait for them outside of a saloon. A few references to using tobacco and drinking strong spirits are found. Bear talks a couple of times about being drunk and having a girl at one’s side. Two scenes in particular are rather intense—where the Cheyenne kill the Hudsons and where Bear and Wind have to kill a bunch of pelt robbers who attack them—and would not be suitable for small children, but I do not think that the violence, though somewhat descriptive, is gratuitous. The book is advertised as a “story of the bond between the man and boy–a bond stronger than any family tie–set against the background of the changing West.”