Le Sueur has combined fact and fiction to present a few pages from American history. She has told the story of an individual who helped to shape the United States and who, in the shaping, left a legacy of courage and loyalty. The result is a book that can be read for its rhythmic prose. Chanticleer of Wilderness Road conveys strong emotion as well as factual truth.
This book serves well as a biography for young people because of its description of a hero who is worthy of admiration. Le Sueur portrays Crockett as a real person with superhuman characteristics, and she shows him as a mighty hunter who enjoyed teaching his own sons to hunt. Although she mentions that Crockett killed seventeen bears in one season, Le Sueur is careful to note that this action not only would ensure a supply of meat for the long winter but also would provide “rugs for the floor, covers for the bed, and grease for the griddle.” The reader glimpses Crockett’s human side when he states, with “something in his eye mighty like a tear,” that “nobody knows what a hunt is till he hunts with two brave sons of his own flesh.”
Le Sueur also underscores the bond between Crockett and Andrew Jackson, which began during Crockett’s service as a scout against the Creek nation. Even then, Crockett was a defender of rights, and he stands with Jackson against the symbolic figure of the Yankee Peddler, who always represents those decided on treachery.
The reader is made aware of Crockett’s own modest opinion of himself, which is evidenced during his campaign for Congress when he refers to himself as having “just crept out of the cane.” Underneath the outlandish jokes and stories, however, Crockett emerges...
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Crockett belongs to American folklore, as he was one of the most famous frontiersmen in United States history and captured the imagination of Americans both young and old. Thus, the life story of Crockett is ideally suited for the tall tale. His tangy speech and nationalistic point of view became synonymous with the stories that sprang up about him, some spun by Crockett himself. These tall tales and legends are a profound element in American literary heritage, born of a time when Americans pushed into unexplored western lands, hunted in the untamed forests, and wrestled with the wilderness. Le Sueur has equated Crockett with these tales and has made it easier to believe that he performed such mighty deeds. Teachers will find Le Sueur’s poetic, humorous portrayal of the legendary Crockett a spirited supplement to a straight story of his life, and Chanticleer of Wilderness Road will sat-isfy students by providing them with brisk action and thrilling adventure in the form of American folklore.
Le Sueur’s book is a memorable picture of life on the early frontier and of the people who helped to carve the United States out of a wilderness. By alluding to the reason for the break between Crockett and Jackson, Le Sueur indicates an indictment of the laws that stripped the Native Americans of their lands. The pathos of the heroic struggle at the Alamo against overpowering odds kindles a flame of national pride and makes this biography a worthwhile contribution to history sources.