Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Last Algonquin, Theodore Kazimiroff recounts the friendship that his father shared as a boy with an aging Algonquin Native American. Joe Two Trees was discovered by the young Kazimiroff on Hunter’s Island in New York’s Pelham Bay area in 1924. Denied the company of other Algonquins after the death of his parents, and believing himself to be the sole remaining member of his clan, Two Trees preserved the tribal ways that he had been taught and shared this heritage over the period of a year with the author’s father.

The story recounts the Algonquin’s life in narrative form. An introduction describes the author’s involvement in the story and gives background information on his father, who is the young narrator. Part 1 includes five chapters and is the narrator’s account of the growing friendship between the older man and himself. Under the direction of Two Trees, the boy learns Native American ways: how to make a clay pot, how to chip an arrowhead, how to fish. Part 2 of the book contains fifteen chapters in which the dying Two Trees tells the story of his life to the young Kazimiroff. A brief “Afterthought” urges readers to keep the Algonquin’s story alive in their minds and to pass it on to others.

Two Trees tells the boy how his family came to be separated from their clan and how he survived the brutal winter alone after his parents’ death. Dreading the isolation and fear of another winter alone, the...

(The entire section is 471 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The body of this book has two main settings. One is the Bronx, especially Hunter Island, in 1924—the time and place in which Two Trees...

(The entire section is 263 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Last Algonquin is a narrative which is interrupted at times by the author's italicized comments. But whether The Last...

(The entire section is 1198 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

This book displays deep social sensitivity on the issue of what it means to be Indian. Joe and his beliefs are at no point looked down on;...

(The entire section is 672 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. In Chapter 2, "A Clay Pot," Joe Two Trees explains the Indian concept of "medicine," which is very different from his young friend's...

(The entire section is 206 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Research the history and culture of Native Americans in your area, in Two Trees's area, or in some other area that interests you and...

(The entire section is 425 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Although the movie rights to The Last Algonquin have been sold, a movie based on the book has not yet been made.


(The entire section is 138 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortix, eds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pantheon, 1984. A collection of 166 Native...

(The entire section is 1460 words.)