OVERRIDE

The Great Death

John Smelcer

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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 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.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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Ts'ilk'ey

(One)

In Yani’da’a, the long-ago time, Raven was flying around looking for something to eat. He was very hungry as usual. Once, he had even been hungry the day after he finished eating a whale.

SOME STORIES ARE TOO BIG to be told all at once, even if they seem small. Largeness of story has nothing to do with the length of each word or of each sentence or with the number of pages, but with the capacity of the heart, which can take only so much.

This is such a story.

It begins in a little-known corner of Alaska less than two decades after the

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Great Death

“A gripping and poignant survival story, made even more so because of its basis on historical fact. … Smelcer’s prose is clean yet rich; original yet unpretentious, and he provides more than enough detail to satisfy diehard survival-story junkies.”—Horn Book Review, Starred Review

“This grim tale of the sisters’ struggle against the elements will leave readers wanting to know more about this little-known time in history.”—Booklist

“An engaging tale of survival.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A classic survival story.”—BCCB

“A gripping and poignant survival story, made even more so because of its basis on historical fact. … Smelcer’s prose is clean yet rich; original yet unpretentious, and he provides more than enough detail to satisfy diehard survival-story junkies.”—Horn Book Review, Starred Review

“This grim tale of the sisters’ struggle against the elements will leave readers wanting to know more about this little-known time in history.”—Booklist

“An engaging tale of survival.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A classic survival story.”—BCCB

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • John Smelcer

  • JOHN SMELCER is the author of many nonfiction and poetry books for adults, as well as a young adult novel, The Trap. Mr. Smelcer has been a visiting professor at various universities around the world and is the associate publisher and poetry editor of the literary magazine Rosebud.
  • John Smelcer John Smelcer

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Great Death

John Smelcer

  • Hardcover

  • e-Book

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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