Jim Thorpe's Bright Path

By School Library Journal

Thorpe, who was named “Wa-tho-huck,” or “Bright Path,” by his Pottowatomie mother, spent a childhood marked by remarkable physical prowess until he was sent to an Indian boarding school at age six. He lost his twin brother (pneumonia), his mother (“sudden illness”), and his father (snakebite), but persevered, finally proving himself on the Carlisle Indian School football field in his teens. Bruchac ends this picture-book biography here. He sticks to the facts, occasionally employing bits of dialogue. He includes details about the unfair treatment of Native Americans, such as the mandatory Indian boarding schools that had unsanitary living conditions and educated students only to be maids and laborers. The theme of overcoming personal and societal obstacles to reach success is strongly expressed. The author keeps his subject linked to his heritage; for example, referring to Thorpe’s speed and endurance as skills that had enabled his American Indian ancestors to provide for their families… An author’s note and a chronology, both illustrated with small black-and-white photos, sketch the rest of Thorpe’s life.