Hawk's Cry

The Story of a Cheyenne Hero

Young Adult - Adventure
233 Pages
Reviewed on 11/02/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Natalie Soine for Readers' Favorite

Hawk's Cry: The Story of a Cheyenne Hero by Luann Atkin Koester is a captivating historical fiction novel that masterfully weaves together the stories of two young boys, one from the present and the other from the past. Hawk's Cry offers a poignant exploration of the Cheyenne people's struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of relentless encroachment by settlers. The novel effectively bridges two time periods, bringing the Battle of Summit Springs in 1869 to life while also presenting a modern-day coming-of-age tale. The book is an engaging story and an educational tool, making it suitable for social studies and history classes for middle and high school students. The parallel journeys of Ryan and Little Hawk are both heartwarming and thought-provoking, and the mystical encounters and cultural elements add depth to the narrative.

Luann Atkin Koester skillfully incorporates historical details and cultural nuances into the narrative, providing readers with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by Native Americans in the late 1800s. Koester's storytelling is rich and evocative, bringing the characters and settings to life. The reader gains a profound appreciation for the resilience and bravery of the Cheyenne people during a tumultuous period in history. The afterword, which provides historical context for the Battle of Summit Springs, adds another layer of authenticity to the story. It helps readers understand the significance of the events described in the book and their impact on the Cheyenne tribe. Hawk's Cry is a beautifully written and emotionally resonant novel that seamlessly blends history and fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and Luann Atkin Koester’s writing style.

Grant Leishman

Hawk’s Cry: The Story of a Cheyenne Hero by Luann Atkin Koester is a bittersweet tale across the centuries that chronicles the coming of age of two young boys; one a Cheyenne lad in 1869 and the other a modern-day ranching son. Their two worlds will collide when 12-year-old Ryan Tyler is hunting for Native American artifacts around his Colorado ranch home. One hundred and fifty years earlier, a Cheyenne boy, Little Hawk, is coming of age and about to become a warrior in his tribe. When Ryan discovers the saddle of an ancient courting flute on one of his excursions into the hills, he knows he has found something special. He receives a vision from Little Hawk who implores him to return the remains of the flute to his Wyoming homeland so he can finally be reunited with his beloved grandfather who carved the special flute for him. Back in 1869, at Medicine Bow, Little Hawk experiences a vision of his own that convinces him his family and the tribe as a whole are in great danger from the white man and his Pawnee accomplices. He must do whatever he can to save his people from the impending doom. Both boys, linked across the years, have their own dangerous quests beckoning to them.

Hawk’s Cry is an illuminating and easy-to-read narrative of a history often told from one side; that of the victors. Author Luann Atkin Koester has taken a recorded event and a known hero, the Battle of White Butte Creek and Little Hawk, and beautifully created a wonderful fictional adventure that will delight readers young and old. I particularly appreciated the split-time chapter layout from both Ryan's and Little Hawk’s perspectives. I was impressed by the setting of Little Hawk’s tale with the detail of daily family life, their challenges, their fears, and their beliefs which gave the story the depth and mystical quality that it required. One thing was crystal clear in this story: the Native American communities were no different in any way from those who sought to contain them or, at the extreme, exterminate them. Little Hawk and his friends clearly showed that boys will always be boys and that the onset of young adulthood brings some strange and unusual feelings. The importance of family, tradition, and the frustration of losing their land and hunting grounds shone through on every page. This is a delightful and simple read with a challenging quest for both Ryan and Little Hawk. This was a satisfying read and one I can highly recommend.

Kimberlee J Benart

Hawk's Cry: The Story of a Cheyenne Hero is a young adult historical fiction novel by Luann Atkin Koester. Twelve-year-old Ryan is a white boy who wants to be an archeologist one day and often searches for artifacts near his Colorado home. Little Hawk is fifteen, Cheyenne, and lives a century and a half earlier. As a mystical bond forms between the boys, each begins a dangerous quest. The story is inspired by the historical account of a fifteen-year-old Cheyenne herder boy who saved the lives of many women and children when their village was attacked by the US Cavalry and Pawnee Scouts at the decisive Battle of Summit Springs in 1869. An Afterword and Author’s Note provide historical context. Questions for discussion are included.

In Hawk's Cry, Luann Atkin Koester gives us an utterly compelling story that blends history with adventure and vision-filled mysticism into a coming-of-age story that is both inspirational and educational. The plot alternates between the boys. Ryan and Little Hawk are admirable, relatable characters who face unique challenges with courage, and toughmindedness. Koester does a masterful job of presenting their mystical connection believably, pulling the reader into their visions and allowing us to soar like hawks over the landscape. We see and feel what they do and experience the drama and suspense of what is to come. Cultural and historical aspects of the story are presented with sensitivity and respect. A fascinating read for young adults and adults alike.