Weasel


by Cynthia DeFelice
Reading level: Ages 9-12
© 1990

Synopsis

Originally hired by the U.S. government to drive the Shawnees from the Ohio Territory in the 1830’s, a deranged man known as “Weasel” now kills for the sake of killing since his Indian prey are either dead or have escaped to safety. When Nathan’s father is attacked by Weasel, Nathan takes the law into his own hands.

Awards

ALA Notable Children’s Book
An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists
A School Library Journal Best Book
A Notable Children’s Book in the Field of Social Studies
Winner of the Oklahoma Sequoyah Award Children’s Book
Winner of the South Carolina Children’s Book Award

A Note from the Author

This book begins with the sentence, “The dogs were dozing in their usual places by the fire when the knock came.” I thought that was an exciting way to begin a book: a knock at the door. The door of what? I asked myself. A little cabin, out in the middle of the wilderness. Who’s in the cabin? An eleven-year-old boy and his nine-year-old sister. Where’s their mother? Dead of a fever. Where’s their father? He went out hunting six days ago, and never came back. Who’s at the door? A stranger. A white man, dressed like a Shawnee Indian. What does he want? The children don’t know, because he doesn’t talk. He beckons for them to follow him into the darkness. Why doesn’t he talk? He can’t….

When I was growing up and learning about the westward expansion in America, I never heard about the Removal Act. Passed by Congress in 1830, it told the Native Americans that they had to leave their homes and go to the Indian territories, or be killed by the army. I wanted to tell a story that showed the effects of that law. Also I wanted to write about a young boy’s struggles as he comes face-to-face with evil (in the person of an Indian fighter named Weasel).

Reviews

“Nathan Fowler, 11, narrates a short, exciting story of his adventures in 1839 Ohio – a year in which he faces grave physical danger and arrives at mature moral decisions….Written in sparse, vivid language, often poetic, the novel is plausible historic fiction that deals with the inhumane treatment of native Americans from a different angle by turning the brutal results of hate back on the white race itself. The character of Nathan is unforgettable” – School Library Journal, *starred review

Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice (1990)
Paperback – 119 pages (October 1991)
Camelot; ISBN: 0380713586
Hardback – 119 pages 1 Ed edition (May 1990)
Atheneum; ISBN: 0027264572