Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison

When I was growing up, my home was filled with books and magazines. We often went to the public library. Probably the first chapter book that I remember reading is Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Ohio writer and illustrator, Lois Lenski. The book won a Newbery Honor in 1942.
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison
Indian Captive is based on a true story about a young girl in Pennsylvania who was captured in a raid and raised by Seneca Indians. Several years after coming to live with the Seneca, Mary was offered a choice of returning to the "pale-faces". Mary learned that her own family had been murdered a day or two after she was separated from them. But she chose to stay with her "Indian" family.

I read this book for the first time when I was about seven years old, and I borrowed it over and over from my school library. I was drawn in by the story, and charmed by Lenski’s illustrations.
There is a narrative from interviews in 1823 with Mary Jemison available online. It is as fascinating as Lenski's fictional account.
What was the first piece of fiction you read that had an impact on you?


Unknown said...

I read so many books growing up! I remember being 8 years old and discovering the works of E. B. White. Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan were books that I would read over and over again. Especially the first two. They were my first experience with the idea of melancholy and that a story could be both sad and satisfying. Up until then, I had been "protected" from sad stories. But in Charlotte's Web, Charlotte actually died! She spent her life trying to save her friend, and though she was successful, I always wondered if Wilbur ever really appreciated her.

And Stuart Little! At the end, he never finds Margalo. He just drives off and keeps searching. There was no actual resolution, and I came to the conclusion that this meant that whether he found Margalo or not was not important. It was the search that mattered, at least as far as the author was concerned.

I loved those books. I loved the way that E. B. White told his stories and the illustrations of Garth Williams. I always got the feeling from his books that the world was a beautiful, dangerous, and sad place, and that the only true kindness in it was what we bring into it.

And having written all of that now, I realize that I was a very strange kid.

Anonymous said...

Lois Lenski Is one of my favorite authors from my childhood. I loved her books on migrant farm workers children with Judy's Journey being my favorite. Because we moved so frequently when I was growing up, I identified with the way her family was constantly on the move and friends were difficult to make.

Additionally, my great aunt, Wylly Folk St. John made a big impression on me with her children's mysteries especially when she used me and my sister Margaret as characters in her book," The Christmas Tree Mystery"

Madame DeFarge said...

I think it must have been stories about the Greek myths and legends. I used to devour books about them when I was young. And Mary Poppins too. Just seemed so magical.

CiCi said...

Little Women was the first book I read I think. I was captured by the story of family. It was a big impact on me.

From AA to NZ said...

I read and re-read Little Women. Particularly admired Jo and her strong will and unconventional ways. Was going to name my daughter after her .... don't know what happened there.

Happy Frog and I said...

Lovely post. I couldn't get enough of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, such a great book.

Thank you so much for popping me up as blog of the day, how lovely of you! :-)

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not--Mary Jemison is my great-great-great aunt! My cousin researched the family tree on my mom's side of the family and made all of the connections. It turns out that Mary's brother Thomas was in the barn with his brother John on the day of the raid. The brothers were not killed and Thomas is my great-great-great grandfather. It blows my mind to think that if the two brothers had not been in the barn that day and they had been captured and killed, I would not be here!