The Great Death (2020)

The Great Death John E. Smelcer The Great Death The Great Death arrived with the man from downriver the one who came with the light colored strangers and had little red spots covering his body Thirteen year old Millie and her younger sister Maura
  • Title: The Great Death
  • Author: John E. Smelcer
  • ISBN: 9780805081008
  • Page: 264
  • Format: Hardcover
The Great Death John E. Smelcer The Great Death arrived with the man from downriver, the one who came with the light colored strangers and had little red spots covering his body Thirteen year old Millie and her younger sister, Maura, are fascinated by the guests, but soon sickness takes over their village As they watch the people they know and love die, the sisters remain unaffected and begin to realizThe Great Death arrived with the man from downriver, the one who came with the light colored strangers and had little red spots covering his body Thirteen year old Millie and her younger sister, Maura, are fascinated by the guests, but soon sickness takes over their village As they watch the people they know and love die, the sisters remain unaffected and begin to realize that they will have to find a new home.Alone in the cold Alaskan winter of 1917, struggling to overcome the obstacles nature throws their way, the girls discover that their true strength lies in their love for each other.John Smelcer s spare and beautiful prose shapes the sisters story with tenderness and skill, presenting a powerful tale of determination, survival, and family.
The Great Death John E. Smelcer

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    Posted by:John E. Smelcer
    Published :2020-04-07T10:16:50+00:00

One thought on “The Great Death

  1. Kristen

    Interesting historical fiction At the beginning of the twentieth century, full two thirds of all Alaskan Natives perished from a pandemic of measles, smallpox, and influenza Millie and Maura are two sisters, the only survivors of the Great Death from their village This is the story of their journey Good plot, and great setting, but the narrator kept interrupting with information that was good to know, but worded in such an outsider instructional way that it pulled me out of the story Because spr [...]

  2. Deanna

    Historical fiction, plague, family, survival, Native Alaskan culture.Since I am just getting over the H1N1 flu this book was an interesting read Boy am I thankful for Advil, vitamins, gas furnace, bountiful pantry, etc This book follows 2 sisters as they travel a river to find other people who might be alive White people brought a plague to their Alaskan village and everyone died except them During the journey they are attacked by wolves, meet up with a hairy woodsman who drinks too much, find 2 [...]

  3. Nicola

    This was a nice, short book about two girls who are the only survivors in their village A disease has been brought to their village in Alaska by European settlers and it wipes out everybody they know The girls decide to travel to the next village for help and the book documents their travels It was interesting and easy to read and the girls were both very strong and likeable I think it would have been better if the book followed them further than it did instead of just leaving it to our inmagina [...]

  4. Kathleen

    For such a small book, this story really packs an emotional punch.According to Mr Smelcer, arly 2 3 of all Alaska natives perished from a pandemic of measles, small pox and influenza which became his inspiration for this story Set in the early 1900 s, Millie and Maura s remote Alaskan village is wiped out by an epidemic of small pox Millie and Maura are the sole survivors and decide that staying in their village will mean certain death So they set off to see if they can life in any of the neares [...]

  5. Phoebe

    Two Alaskan girls, aged 13 and 10, are the only survivors when their village is hit by a plague brought by white people What they endure is horrendous, aside from their shock and grief Tragic, yet a marvelous survival story I have to add, the writing in this short book is incredible There are haunting turns of phrase throughout An historical note at the front of the book indicates that Alaskan natives still refer to the start of the 20th century as the Great Death, when two thirds of native peop [...]

  6. Megan

    Not enough story to hold together, not enough historical or cultural content to hold my interest anyway.

  7. Lisa Nocita

    Thirteen year old Millie is responsible for looking after her younger sister Maura Whenever Maura lingers or gets into mischief, Millie is held responsible She considers Maura a real pest But when small pox destroys their entire remote Alaskan village save Millie and Maura, both girls realize they will have to put aside their childish concerns to bear the sadness and brutal winter ahead Millie is determined to find a settlement downriver They simply can t stay in their village alone for the wint [...]

  8. Charli

    SLJ review Grade 6 9 John Smelcer returns to the Alaskan wilderness he mined for The Trap 2006 with this short, historical tale 2009, both Holt about two Native Alaskan sisters orphaned by an epidemic When white men visit their small village, everyone becomes ill and dies, leaving 13 year old Millie and 10 year old Maura as the only survivors With winter fast approaching, they decide to travel downstream in search of other people Accompanied by two loyal village dogs, they make their way through [...]

  9. Ape

    This is a short tale, so I ve read it today It doesn t make it clear on the cover, but I think this is a kid s book if it s not then it certainly should be aimed at that age group As an adult book it is very average.Set in Alaska at some point in history it s a bit vague, but European settlers are very much settled and the indiginous population are trading with them The great death is smallpox or something similiar that is spread through the local communities who have no natural resistence to th [...]

  10. Juneau Public Library

    Two young sisters are the only survivors after a mysterious illness kills the rest of their village Together they set off through a treacherous land in search of other survivors Is this the latest post apocalyptic speculative fiction Unfortunately, no The Great Death is set in Alaska in early 1900s when a worldwide pandemic killed an estimated sixty to seventy percent of the Alaska Native population The characters are inspired by the life of the author s grandmother and great aunt Despite the gr [...]

  11. Judy Desetti

    Historical Fiction An extremely fast read Only 166 Great Death was the near decimation of the Alaskan natives at the turn of the 20th century due to contact with white people According to the author nearly 2 3 of the Alaskan Natives were killed by measles, flu, and small pox.Two sisters are the only survivors left in their remote village They travel down the river to find other survivors Short on details and not much action Not sure students will be able to grasp the full impact of the intense s [...]

  12. JoAnn B.

    Two sisters are the only people in this native Alskan village who do not die from a sickness brought by the first white men to ever visit With winter coming on, they realize that they cannot stay there by themselves and so travel by canoe and on foot to reach a town that they have only heard about This is a good survival story and could be paired with Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor The native Alaskan way of life around 1900 is well portrayed both in the opening chapters describing the village and [...]

  13. Eddie

    This story takes place in a remote village in Alaska in 1917 Two white men and their guide visit the village to photograph the people and the guide is covered with red spots from head to toe After they leave, everyone in the village falls ill and dies except for two sisters, Maura and Millie, ages 13 and 10 The sisters must travel down river in the winter to find others who survived the epidemic Along the way they encounter some life threatening obstacles, which they overcome with courage and de [...]

  14. Molly

    The cover of this book makes a point of saying that its target audience is kids in 6th to 9th grades, but I really enjoyed the storytelling in this odyssey about two young girls who are the lone survivors of an epidemic that kills everyone else in their remote Alaska village in 1917 I think of it as a short story or novella that should appeal to readers of all ages, although some of the elements death, rape, etc might be a little much for younger audiences to handle I borrowed the audiobook fro [...]

  15. Rebecca

    I liked that this book covered little known history, especially that of native peoples But I feel like the book needed of an ending I also have mixed feelings about the author summarizing the plot in the intro that the two girls will be left alone, but will survive, after a plague wipes out their entire village I guess this gives younger readers advance notice of grim subject matter, but the graphic descriptions of the dead and a near rape scene make this questionable as a book for grade 5 9, a [...]

  16. Karen

    This story of two native Alaskan sisters who watch their entire village die from a smallpox epidemic spread by Europeans in the early 1900 s is based on fact The girls travel by canoe and by foot for many miles through the dead of winter in an effort to find another village where people are alive Along the way they must deal with numerous obstacles and dangers, some quite gruesome The book felt very plot driven to me I didn t feel that I got to know the characters well enough The writing style i [...]

  17. CatherineMustread

    Plague ravishes a small Alaska Ahtna village in the early 1900s and only two girls survive they head downstream on a survival road trip, hoping to find other people still alive somewhere I liked that this is based on a true story and how the interdependence of the girls saves and motivates them Also appreciated that the macabre nature of the devastating horrors faced are muted rather than graphically depicted The inclusion of fragments of Raven tales at the beginning of each chapter tied in nice [...]

  18. Koster, L.

    This is a small 166 page story with a big impact The description of the bucolic life of the two sisters 13 and 8 years old in their native village in Alaska is charming, but this life style is soon to come to a violent end It is the Winter of 1917 and the two of them will be the only survivors of their village after smallpox is introduced by the Europeans who have visited The plague is decimating the Native population across the land, and the two girls must set out all alone to find out if there [...]

  19. Salsabrarian

    When smallpox kills all but two young girls in a remote Alaskan village, Maura and Millie set out to reach the settlement often mentioned by their elders As the bitter winter descends, the two girls struggle with challenge after challenge along their journey, from losing their canoe to hunting down food Their native traditions and skills enable their basic survival but their dogged determination to keep on despite a seemingly abandoned world is the story s suspense and heart This novel is succin [...]

  20. Susan

    This book fairly accurately depicted how devastating disease was brought by the white man to Alaskan native villages The disease would wipe out entire villages, and due to their remoteness it wouldn t be known for a long period of time In this novel, two young sisters survived from their village and using their native training, started a long trip to other villages or civilization It depicted the hardship the met with snow, raging rivers, a perverted trapper, wild animals, and While the subject [...]

  21. Robyn

    Two Alaskan Native American sisters are thrown into the wild after their village is devastated by a plague of I m assuming measles I felt the story was too short and underdeveloped to warrant any emotional investment I did like the side story that began each chapter It is an Alaskan folk tale about Raven and the mischief he causes This was supposed to correlate to girls story, but it felt forced I m curious if The Trap , also by John Smelcer, is better since it was best book for young adults Thi [...]

  22. Mrs. Hassig

    This book is a total heartbreaker Two little sisters are the only ones to survive in their village in Alaska when the white man comes to take photos of them in their native dress and standing next to their homes You d think the native traveling with him and coughing up blood would have given everyone a clue that there is a problem but NOOOOOOO The saddest part of this story is that it is historical fiction The Great Death did happen to thousands of Native Americans The harrowing travels of these [...]

  23. Heather

    Prepare yourself for a sad book if you are going to read listen to this one But it was incredibly interesting to me because of its historical context What tragedy the Native Alaskans went through Besides the history lesson, I also liked the book because of the characters of the sisters They really learn to rely upon each other and grow so strong The main disappointment for me was the ending After all that I had been through with these sisters, I wanted to see how the next stage of their lives de [...]

  24. Karen

    Fascinating topic the smallpox epidemic that hit Alaska Native villages and the story of two young sisters who are the only survivors from their village They travel down river to find other people and safety The girls see lots of death and face many challenges on their journey, growing in confidence and skills along the way The author did a good job of translating the horrific experience of these children into a story that other young readers can understand and also learn some history in the pro [...]

  25. Elzbeth

    Very depressing book Everyone and I mean EVERYONE except the main characters dies The new born babies die, the parents die, random strangers die, the dogs die everyone the book is written in kind of an odd way Almost like the author is trying to write a survival manual she didn t know why the gun wasn t working If she d gone hunting with her father, she would have learned to clean off the grease to unjam the gun Not bad altogether though.

  26. KJ, Madame Librarian

    Book one for my YA research project Beyond Little House.This is a very spare narrative about Millie and Maura, two sisters who are the lone survivors of measles I believe in their Alaskan village It s a moving survival story, but to me it lacked the compelling nature of books like The Hatchet Maybe the writing was a little too spare for me In the end, I felt like I neither had a sense of each girl s personality or of the nature of the world around them.

  27. Andy

    Finished this book in record time, only took me a few hours to get through the whole thing I really enjoyed this story, it held a lot of historical value and portrayed the hardships of Millie and Maura very well The whole story was very riveting, it seemed that just when things couldnt get any worse, they did But the perserverence of the sisters was truly admirable and the ending was simple yet satisfying I would definitely recomend this to my friends.

  28. Kim Patton

    Definitely not for the faint of heart, but a really good read for those that can handle graphic descriptions of an Alaskan village dying from a disease brought in by outsiders Two girls, Maura Millie, are the lone survivors from the remote village and must find there way in the Alaskan winter to see if others have survived the disease that had devastated the region Adventure book readers will enjoy this one.

  29. Ramarie

    a survival story of two Native American sisters, who travel downriver after their entire village falls victim to the great death smallpox I felt like the characterization of the two girls was a little weak and that it stretched the imagination to believe that the sisters would survive some of the events along the waybut I was rooting for them all the same I enjoyed this author s other YA novel, The Trap, much .

  30. Mindy

    I really enjoyed reading this book It s a short easy read, but well written and very interesting It s about two young Eskimo sisters living in Alaska, about 20 years after the Klondike gold rush During this time, there was a huge outbreak of smallpox influenza introduced by the White Men among the native Eskimos that, according to the author, killed about 2 3 of the total population This book personalizes that tragedy through the survival story of the two young sisters.

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