Title: Om-kas-toe of the Blackfeet
Author: Kenneth Thomasma
Series: Amazing Indian Children
Major Themes: Horses, Indians, Survival
Synopsis: Blackfeet twins, a boy and a girl, find a horse and help their tribe.
What boy doesn’t enjoy a good Indian story? I know mine love them, and these books by Kenneth Thomasma are always good. We thoroughly enjoyed Om-kas-toe over the past couple of weeks. One thing I noticed as I read it aloud was the simple vocabulary and sentence structure. Though this is a fairly complex, high-interest story, it is also fairly easy to read.
The main characters in this story were twins, a boy and a girl. Normally, among the Blackfeet, one of the twins would be left to die at birth, because it was too hard to care for two babies at once. The mother of these babies, however, pled for the life of both her babies, and the tribe decided to let them live, if the mother could keep up with everything she had to do for survival. Would the tribe end up regretting that decision, or be glad they made it?
At the beginning of the story, the twins were eight years old. They both did all they could to contribute to the well-being of their people. When Om-kas-toe rescued a raven, his life began to change, and when he and his sister stumbled upon an elkdog, their lives, and the lives of their people, were never the same again. All through the story, Om found himself in one form of danger after another. Your children will love reading about how he overcame each of these dangers.
One theme that I saw running through the whole book was how Om had to be observant. He had to remain aware of his surroundings and everything that was happening around him, at all times. Sometimes this was for his own survival, and sometimes it was for someone else’s, like the time that the baby fell off a travois and was in danger of being lost for good. Another trait that saved his life a number of times, and helped his people as well, was kindness. If he had not rescued the raven, life would have been much more difficult.
A number of times throughout the story, the modern names of various places are mentioned. That makes it more interesting for us, and more real. Part of this story takes place in modern-day Yellowstone Park.
Any child who enjoys stories about Indians, horses, or survival will enjoy this story. Horses are a major theme through the narrative, as well, since this story tells of how the Blackfeet got their first ones (the elkdogs). The Indians’ puzzlement when they first saw a horse is quite amusing!
WARNING: Chapter 2, pages 28-29 talks about calling on the spirits for help.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12