Crooked River


256 pages

Publisher: Knopf

Setting: Ohio in 1812

Curriculum connections:


Early Settlement, Native American cultures, Poetry.


Recommended for Grades 5 to 8.

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it is the time when the leaves crooked river

are small on the trees.

too small

for hiding.


The year is 1812. A white trapper is murdered and a young Chippewa Indian stands accused.  Events unfold in the alternating poetic and prose voices of the accused man and a thirteen-year-old settler girl trying to save his life.  Crooked River offers a powerful look at prejudice, justice, and the clash of two cultures on the frontier.  Based on a true story.  Includes a Reader’s Theater script at the end.





Junior Library Guild

Great Lakes Book Award Finalist

New York Public Library Top 100

Notable Social Studies Trade Book

Starred reviews in Booklist and Kirkus Reviews.

State Reading Award Lists:  Oklahoma, Maryland, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire




“This vivid look into the reality of crude frontier life and justice is outstanding historical fiction.”- Kirkus Reviews, starred


Crooked River is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and would aptly serve as a discussion-rich tool for American studies.”- School Library Journal, starred


“This is a nail-biting historical fiction account…”- The Sanford Herald


“This was an amazing book for literature circles because there is so much to talk about.” – Isabel, 7th grade

Quick Classroom Ideath


Crooked River is written from two alternating points of view.   However, Indian John Amik’s point of view isn’t included after every chapter. Have students reread Chapter 10 (pages 58-61) and write a poem in the voice of John Amik, giving his reaction to the settlers’ treatment of him in Chapter 10.


Read a Sample poem