HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Picture Story and Biography of Red Cloud
Author: Shannon Garst
Illustrator: Art Seiden
Publisher: Follett Publishing, 1965
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 6 -12
Rating: **** 4 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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Garst, Shannon. The Picture Story and Biography of Red Cloud (Published in 1965 by Follett Publishing Company, Chicago, IL). This book is both a picture story and a biography of Red Cloud (1822 – 1909), one of the most important leaders of the Oglala Lakota from 1868 to 1909. One of the most capable Native American opponents whom the United States Army faced in the western territories, he defeated the United States during Red Cloud’s War, which was a fight over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. The largest action of the war was the Fetterman Fight, with 81 U.S. soldiers killed; it was the worst military defeat suffered by the US Army on the Great Plains until the Battle of the Little Bighorn ten years later.
After signing the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), Red Cloud led his people in the important transition to reservation life. Some of his opponents mistakenly thought of him as the overall leader of the Sioux groups (Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota), but the large tribe had several major divisions and was highly decentralized. Bands among the Oglala and other divisions operated independently, though some individuals were renowned as warriors and highly respected as leaders, such as Red Cloud. The first section of the book is a picture story of Red Cloud suitable for younger children ages 6-8, while the rest of it is a middle-school age biography of the Sioux chief who joined Crazy Horse in leading their people in a prolonged assault against the white man and the confines of the Indian Reservation
This book is one of “The Library of American Heroes” series. Author Doris Shannon Garst (1894-1981) became a teacher and school principal, but quickly turned to writing full-time after her first book, The Story of Wyoming, was published in 1938. She published under the name Shannon Garst (Shannon was her step-father’s surname) because the publisher of her first book didn’t believe anyone would read a Western-themed book written by a woman. My only problem with the book is that it seems to be a bit one-sided in which most of the actions of Native Americans are pictured as good or at least understandable, while practically all the actions of white men are pictured as prejudicial and bad. Of course, it’s true that in many instances the Indians were horribly mistreated, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that fact. But a little more balance would have helped. Otherwise, it is an interesting biography.