The Crimson Cap


Pierre’s father is missing. His mother is ill and his siblings are starving. And though he is just ten, he joins an expedition to find help for the failing French settlement on the Gulf Coast where he has lived for the last two years. But the expedition becomes lost, the leader is murdered by his own men, and Pierre falls deathly ill. Only through the goodness of the Hasinai tribe does Pierre survive. For three years he lives with the Hasinai, and he comes to love them though he never forgets his family. When Spanish explorers find him living with the natives, they offer to help him find his sister and younger brothers, but this means giving up his life with the Hasinai and allying himself with an enemy of France.

Based on a true story, The Crimson Cap is a finely executed piece of historical fiction for middle-grade readers. The pacing is quick and the characters are morally complex. Howard weaves in enough detail about daily life in the late 17th century to make the story interesting, but does not overload the tale with it. I enjoyed reading the book even if sometimes I found the writing awkward, especially the action sequences.  — Patricia O’Sullivan

The Crimson Cap by Ellen Howard is a story about how a young French boy, Pierre Talon, fights for the survival of his ill mother and starving siblings. Pierre is offered a position on an expedition with a man named Sieur de la Salle and his men because of Pierre’s knowledge of Indian languages.

The expedition goes wrong and Pierre becomes deadly ill. He is nursed to health by a Hasinai woman and lives with her tribe for many years. He learns to love her like a mother but never forgets his true family.

When Spanish explorers discover Pierre living with the Hasinai, they offer to help him find his true family. Pierre realizes it’s a choice between his family and the Hasinai. He allies himself with the Spanish, an enemy of France, and sets off to find his family.

This book was hard to finish. It didn’t hold my interest and was difficult to understand at times. The writing was very good even though the story was disturbing. I would not recommend this book to my friends.  — Marion O’Sullivan, age 11


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(US) $16.95

(US) 9780823421527