Ten year old Etienne Chouart yearns for a life of adventure. While delivering chickens to the Jesuit Mission in Sillery, he meets an orphan destined to apprentice at Fort Sainte Marie, the furthest settlement north in New France. Making the most impulsive decision of his life, Etienne takes the boy back to his home. At the crack of dawn Etienne, not the orphan, paddles out into the St. Lawrence with the famous voyageur, Médard des Groseilliers right into heart of the land of the Huron.
At Sainte Marie, Etienne meets a Huron youth named both Tsiko and Thomas. From him, Etienne learns true wilderness life and how to respect nature.
From Father Francesco Bressani, Father Antoine Daniel, and Father Jean de Brébeuf, he learns the life of piety, although other priests engage in shocking practices of conversion.
After escaping the Iroquois, witnessing the destruction of the village of Teanaustaye and death of Father Daniel, those at the mission waited for a second attack. Etienne decides he must take his fate into his own hands before the shadow of the cross falls across him as well. He breaks his vows of dedication and leaves the mission with his Huron friend, Tsiko. But first, the boys must get past the raiding Iroquois.
At the trading post, Etienne and Tsiko part ways. Unsure of what waits for him at home, Etienne returns to Quebec.
WAR BIRD, a historical fiction for readers 8-12 years of age, is about life at Sainte- Marie. It is also about the relationship between Etienne and a Christian Huron youth named Thomas. From him, Etienne learns true wilderness life and how to respect nature. From the Jesuits, Etienne learns to lead a life of piety. When the Iroquois attack a nearby village and kill Father Daniel, Etienne learns about war.
Today, one is able to stand in the midst of Sainte-Marie’s replicated buildings and get a true sense of the age.