When young Pierre LaPage’s father is injured, the boy signs on with a Voyageur crew paddling trade goods from Montreal to the western shore of Lake Superior, and returning with furs. The story of his first summer is told in The Broken Blade. Wintering is about his second year. An older, stronger, and wiser Pierre takes the bold step of agreeing to become an hivernant, a voyageur who stays in the north woods all winter. As the tale begins, Pierre has just completed the Grand Portage, a nine-mile trail over which he hauled 180-pound loads to be taken to the winter camp on Lake Vermilion in the area that would become northern Minnesota.
The book is lively with the dangers and deeds of voyageur life, the antics of the colorful crew, and the customs of the Ojibway who are winter neighbors and become Pierre’s friends. Near misses abound as the canoe is swept through rapids, the uncouth bowman Beloit harasses Pierre and everyone else, and the trials of winter survival push each man to his limit. Based on the author’s research into the journals of explorers and traders, the story is historically authentic while maintaining a focus on Pierre’s personal journey from adolescence toward manhood. Age Range: 8 - 12 years. Grade Level: 3 - 7.
- By: William Durbin
- Publisher: Raven Productions
- ISBN-13: 978-0980104592
- Format: Paperback, 152 pages, 8.6 x 6.6 x 0.3 inches