The latest Project Gutenberg release created by the Distributed Proofreaders project from scans in our Digital Library is another entry from the Instructor Literature Series of primary school readers: Kwasa the Cliff Dweller by Katherine Atherton Grimes. Like the author’s earlier Bolo the Cave Boy, this is a story imagining life long-ago, though this time, the subject is the Ancestral Puebloans.
The book is a coming of age story, following the titular Kwasa as he must leave behind childhood games to take on difficult challenges for the sake of his people. One might expect a book from this era to present either a condescending or romanticized view of Native American life, but Grimes takes the approach of depicting her characters as regular, identifiable people who happen to be living in a different historical context. She also manages to balance the jobs of conveying historical information and telling a story about as well as could be hoped for in this type of book. Of course, the text is unlikely to fully live up to 21st century standards, if only because historical understanding has moved on in the century since it was written, but it is an interesting effort for its time, and it is certainly possible to imagine its original intended audience enjoying it.
You can find the full text of the book at Project Gutenberg, where it can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats.
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