The Crimson Cap
by Ellen Howard
Holiday House, 2009. 177 pgs. Historical Fiction
When Pierre Talon leaves his destitute family to accompany the French explorer LaSalle in his search for the Mississippi River, he promises his family to return. But how could he know that LaSalle would be killed and that, overcome by a fever, he would have to take shelter with a band of Hasinai Indians? As the Hasinai care for him, and teach him their ways--how to hunt, how to fish, how to swim, how to run great distances without rest--he comes to consider them his family and postpones deciding whether to return for Maman and the children. Then sad news of the settlement and the sudden appearance of Spanish troops hasten his need to decide whether to continue in his new life or look for his lost family. Pierre Talon is an historical figure, a ten-year old boy who really did accompany LaSalle in his explorations, and Ellen Howard has done a remarkable job of fictionally filling in the blanks in the historical record to make Pierre the fully-fleshed and admirable character he becomes. Recommended for older children.