Title: The Arrow Over the Door
Author: Joseph Bruchac
Major Themes: American Revolution, Indians, New York, Quakers
Synopsis: When Indians surround the Meetinghouse where his family and friends are gathered, Samuel learns the power of love.
I had forgotten how good this book is! That’s one reason I love being able to read a book for the second time, and especially getting to read it aloud. I had The Arrow Over the Door on the stack to read sometime in the near future, but no one had chosen it yet. We had only a couple of days before leaving on a long trip, and had finished all the books we were reading. The day isn’t right without some read-aloud time, but I didn’t want to start something we wouldn’t finish before leaving. What to do? I looked over the shelf of books to read soon, and found the perfect one! The Arrow Over the Door is short, but I remembered it being a good story. We started it, and soon I remembered why I liked it—and the length was perfect. We got through it in just three read-aloud sessions.
The story switches back and forth between two perspectives. First we see events from the point of view of Samuel, a young Quaker boy in Saratoga, New York in 1777. Then, in the next chapter, the story changes to the point of view of Stands Straight, a young Abenaki boy from Canada. Samuel does not agree with his father’s views on fighting. He knows that if his family were to be attacked, whether by Indians or by the British, he would fight them. He has no weapons, but he would find something. Stands Straight and his cousin and uncle are on their way to join the British in their fight to keep the American colonies. They aren’t totally sure that is the right thing to do, though, so they are investigating to see if they really should attack the white settlers in New York.
The two 14-year-olds meet when the Indians surround the Friend’s Meetinghouse one morning while Samuel and his family and the other Quakers are having Meeting. Samuel is startled when he looks out through a crack between the logs that make up the wall of the Meetinghouse and sees a tall Indian. What should he do? He grips his walking stick tightly. The Indians enter the Meetinghouse and see a group of people sitting quietly, with no weapons in sight. What will happen next?
Based on a true account, this is a powerful story of the power of love. It is a vivid picture of what happens when people truly follow Jesus’ example of not returning evil for evil. Though it might look like the only thing to do when you are threatened is to attack back, is that really the right answer? Read this beautiful story to find out what happened to a peace-loving people.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12