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Picture Maker

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Across the ocean, the Crusades had ended. Three plagues devastated Europe, killing Europeans by the hundreds of thousands. But in North America, born into a powerful clan of women, Picture Maker is gifted with the ability to etch drawings that foreshadow the future. Her prophecy of war saves her beloved Ganeogaono people, but leads to her own brutal capture by the Algonqui Across the ocean, the Crusades had ended. Three plagues devastated Europe, killing Europeans by the hundreds of thousands. But in North America, born into a powerful clan of women, Picture Maker is gifted with the ability to etch drawings that foreshadow the future. Her prophecy of war saves her beloved Ganeogaono people, but leads to her own brutal capture by the Algonquins. Through her courage and resilient spirit, and aided by a remarkable storyteller, she escapes her captors and finds refuge with the Naskapi, a peace-loving tribe. Her journey does not end there, however; Picture Maker’s travels take her across North America and into the distant corners of the western hemisphere where she ultimately meets Halvard, a Norse hunter who holds the key to the riddle of her birth. Together, they sail to Greenland, where Halvard’s way of life comes under attack and Picture Maker is shunned as an outcast for her special gifts. Her fate comes full circle as she struggles to save her young daughter from being taken from her, as she was long ago torn from her own clan. A towering saga of adventure and survival, love and loss, Picture Maker brings the fourteenth century to life…from the Iroquois Wars that marked a land forever, to the Norse Invasions, and through the bloody rise of Christianity. It is a stunning achievement from an award-winning historical writer.


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Across the ocean, the Crusades had ended. Three plagues devastated Europe, killing Europeans by the hundreds of thousands. But in North America, born into a powerful clan of women, Picture Maker is gifted with the ability to etch drawings that foreshadow the future. Her prophecy of war saves her beloved Ganeogaono people, but leads to her own brutal capture by the Algonqui Across the ocean, the Crusades had ended. Three plagues devastated Europe, killing Europeans by the hundreds of thousands. But in North America, born into a powerful clan of women, Picture Maker is gifted with the ability to etch drawings that foreshadow the future. Her prophecy of war saves her beloved Ganeogaono people, but leads to her own brutal capture by the Algonquins. Through her courage and resilient spirit, and aided by a remarkable storyteller, she escapes her captors and finds refuge with the Naskapi, a peace-loving tribe. Her journey does not end there, however; Picture Maker’s travels take her across North America and into the distant corners of the western hemisphere where she ultimately meets Halvard, a Norse hunter who holds the key to the riddle of her birth. Together, they sail to Greenland, where Halvard’s way of life comes under attack and Picture Maker is shunned as an outcast for her special gifts. Her fate comes full circle as she struggles to save her young daughter from being taken from her, as she was long ago torn from her own clan. A towering saga of adventure and survival, love and loss, Picture Maker brings the fourteenth century to life…from the Iroquois Wars that marked a land forever, to the Norse Invasions, and through the bloody rise of Christianity. It is a stunning achievement from an award-winning historical writer.

30 review for Picture Maker

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Again, this is how I like my history lessons! Stories that take historical events and tell us what the poeple were doing and feeling during those events. I really really liked this book!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Dowd

    I found Picture Maker on a shelf at the school coffee shop and I couldn't put it down. It's a story of a young Native American girl, post-Neanderthal but pre-European settlement. She is taken from her tribe by another tribe and is raped and abused. She flees from her captors and finds herself among the strange pale people of what would be Canada. She eventually makes a long and arduous journey across the ocean to Northern Europe and makes a life for herself, not of the people and not of any trib I found Picture Maker on a shelf at the school coffee shop and I couldn't put it down. It's a story of a young Native American girl, post-Neanderthal but pre-European settlement. She is taken from her tribe by another tribe and is raped and abused. She flees from her captors and finds herself among the strange pale people of what would be Canada. She eventually makes a long and arduous journey across the ocean to Northern Europe and makes a life for herself, not of the people and not of any tribe. The story is not as depressing as I make it seem because she has this wonderful gift for drawing and observing the world around her. She is full of life, bravery, and adventure even in teh face of adversity. I felt more empowered and moved by this novel than by any other that I had read in year. Please read this book because it will make you feel a part of the larger whole.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Calli

    I was very moved by this novel. You cannot help but be entranced by the incredible pain and subsequent journey of Garahstah a.k.a. Picture Maker, the main character. You will cry and you will find yourself utterly amazed at the life and times of this young native American girl. The trials that she endures will break your heart and you will wonder how anyone survived in these times and in these conditions.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    While this book is fiction it does contain some well researched information about how life was being lived before Columbus came to America. It covers several different Native American cultures as well as "Greenlander" [Norweigen settlers:] through the eyes of a young Mohawk girl. I felt it was very well written and captured my interest right away. I read it almost constantly and enjoyed it very much. While this book is fiction it does contain some well researched information about how life was being lived before Columbus came to America. It covers several different Native American cultures as well as "Greenlander" [Norweigen settlers:] through the eyes of a young Mohawk girl. I felt it was very well written and captured my interest right away. I read it almost constantly and enjoyed it very much.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Judy Taylor

    One of my very favorite books ever. It is jam packed with adventure,thrills, imagination. I feel like the author spent enormous amount of time doing research for this wonderful piece of art. The people of this time period went through so many hardships and trials, both natural and mankind. Their perseverance and bravery for surviving in this young girl was just awesome.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    Very interesting, well researched and written. Took awhile to get into it, and I took loooong breaks in between readings, but it was just wonderful. Really enjoyed it. Such an amazing journey and reading experience.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I've seen this book considered prehistoric fiction by a lot of people. And I even confused it for that at first myself. But this actually takes place somewhere around the 1300's to 1400's so it's not as far back as you would think. So while it may share some similarities with that genre, this book really shouldn't be compared to the Earth's Children Series or the Gear's prehistoric fiction. Picture Maker is an important daughter in her tribe. Because of her tribe's equality of women, she has grow I've seen this book considered prehistoric fiction by a lot of people. And I even confused it for that at first myself. But this actually takes place somewhere around the 1300's to 1400's so it's not as far back as you would think. So while it may share some similarities with that genre, this book really shouldn't be compared to the Earth's Children Series or the Gear's prehistoric fiction. Picture Maker is an important daughter in her tribe. Because of her tribe's equality of women, she has grown up being independent, even hunting, which is unusual for a good many of the other tribes she encounters. So when she is kidnapped, and forced to become a slave for an Algonquin man who degradingly calls her Mohawk (not her people's name for their tribe), it's a whole new world for her. But she longs for escape, and if escape is possible, there are a great many journeys in front of her. It's hard to talk about all the characters in this book without giving too much of the plot away. The safest person to talk about, as a result, is Picture Maker herself. She's a wise woman for not having seen too many years. Even as a girl she carries herself well and makes good decisions. But she does have a lot of misfortune happen to her. It seems like she's always running up against a wall, but she never gives up. And that's what's admirable about her character. And of course not all the other characters are bad guys. She encounters good and bad everywhere she goes and that's what makes humans human. So the book was very realistic in that regard. I kept expecting the plot to leap years at a time. But it never really did until the end. And I liked that we had the continual story of Picture Maker. Nothing was left out that way. I do have to say that her name, Picture Maker, and the significance attached to it led to a dead end. Nothing was ever really done with it. But she has an exciting tale and while parts of it are a little implausible, it was still fun to read. I do have to warn that there are several topics that could be potentially offensive to people. Cannibalism, rape, violence, and an un-popular view of Christianity are in this book. I thought everything made the story more realistic, but others may not think that way. An interesting book and it covers a time and place that I hadn't thought much about before. I'd be interested in reading the sequel to this book. Picture Maker Copyright 2002 464 pages Review by M. Reynard 2013 More of my reviews can be found at www.ifithaswords.blogspot.com

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    This is a fascinating study of Northeastern Native American culture during the 14th-15th centuries A.D.. In this coming-of-age tale, Picture Maker, a young Iroquois girl experiences Algonquin, Naskapi, and Inuit culture first hand before she discovers her ultimate destiny in Greenland. Into this fascinating and romantic tale, Ms. Spinka intricately weaves the cultural traditions of each group of Native Americans as well as the history of the Norse in Greenland (as a matter of fact, the descriptio This is a fascinating study of Northeastern Native American culture during the 14th-15th centuries A.D.. In this coming-of-age tale, Picture Maker, a young Iroquois girl experiences Algonquin, Naskapi, and Inuit culture first hand before she discovers her ultimate destiny in Greenland. Into this fascinating and romantic tale, Ms. Spinka intricately weaves the cultural traditions of each group of Native Americans as well as the history of the Norse in Greenland (as a matter of fact, the description of the Norse in Greenland has inspired me to eventually read Jane Smiley's THE GREENLANDERS, as discussed by Ms. Spinka in the "Author's Notes"). She capably shows the social and religious differences - both the good and the bad - of all the cultures discussed and truly makes the reader understand what it is like to "walk in another person's moccasins". This book is wonderful for gaining a deeper sense of cultural understanding and tolerance - I think older adolescents would enjoy this book as well as adult readers! ...And I am really looking forward to reading the sequal DREAM WEAVER to discover the pictures that daughter Ingrid "draws" for herself.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karina Ambartsoumian-Clough

    I loved the depth of the mane character who goes through many different paths and thus names. It is compelling and there is a history lesson to be learned here. I thought that the novel became a little drawn out in the end but nevertheless the story will captivate you and draw you in.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mars Girl

    Well, it was interesting enough to keep me reading... but it was really already done with Jean Aul's _Clan of the Cave Bear_, which I read in 7th grade. I got this book for really cheap at a church book fair so it was good enough for the read at the price I paid. Not life shattering, though. Well, it was interesting enough to keep me reading... but it was really already done with Jean Aul's _Clan of the Cave Bear_, which I read in 7th grade. I got this book for really cheap at a church book fair so it was good enough for the read at the price I paid. Not life shattering, though.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom Hooker

    Set in the time when the Vikings first discovered America, a young Native American girl is forced into an odyssey which takes her from her own world into that of the Vikings. She must learn to adapt to her new life, and to lead the Vikings to an understanding of her life, as well.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vonnie

    This was an interesting read about Native Americans,Eskimos,and the Vikings and beliefs that are so much a part of each culture. Makes you think about your own religion through the eyes of someone else's perspective. This was an interesting read about Native Americans,Eskimos,and the Vikings and beliefs that are so much a part of each culture. Makes you think about your own religion through the eyes of someone else's perspective.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Purnell

    This was a really interesting book that took alot of twists and turns. An american indian girl escapes and ends up living with the eskimos and ends up in Greenland. Really cool.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    The story started out a little predictable, but i still found my self drawn to the main caracter. Glad i keep rading this one!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    This tale of a native American woman's journey into herself and out in the world is perceptive and reflective. I really recommend it This tale of a native American woman's journey into herself and out in the world is perceptive and reflective. I really recommend it

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Loved this historical fiction.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chosovi

    Quite good actually. Ive had it for awhile, and picked it up out of boredom. A few chapters in, is when i fell in love with the character Picture Maker, and her adverntures.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    Very good and interesting story of Native-North American peoples.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    These books were excellent. Read them many years ago and just now remembered the authors name. Hoping to find more by her or similar epic novels

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    Did not finish. I wanted to like this book, I really did. The premise is so cool and I haven't read anything about Native American people and folkelore since...ever? But this book is just off. If I had to summarize why this book frustrated me, I'd say it's because it's just...flat. Characters are flat, plot is flat, writing is pretty flat too. Important plot events happened way too fast with barely any reflection by the protagonist. Horrible things happened to her very unceremoniously simply beca Did not finish. I wanted to like this book, I really did. The premise is so cool and I haven't read anything about Native American people and folkelore since...ever? But this book is just off. If I had to summarize why this book frustrated me, I'd say it's because it's just...flat. Characters are flat, plot is flat, writing is pretty flat too. Important plot events happened way too fast with barely any reflection by the protagonist. Horrible things happened to her very unceremoniously simply because other characters mentioned that sometimes those things happened. Quality of writing was just meh. Next time I read a book about Native American people, I'll be sure it's written by an actual Native American.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kay Benavidez

    I read this one a long time ago. Found it by chance while wandering through the Cherry Hills Library. This is one of those stories that has stayed with me over the years. The heroine faced incredible struggles and hardships, but managed to come through it and make her connection with husband Halvard. I will remember this book for a long time. (somehow i remember the cover looking different, but this is the book I am thinking of.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tami Barrett

    I absolutely loved this story and the history it portrayed is really good. However, I am unable to give 5 stars because of all the spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. It appears Penina does not have a proofreader or editor for her books. Other than that this is a great first book in the Trilogy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I rarely read a book twice but this was one of the most mind-provoking books ever and I know someday I will read it again. Although I read it in 2002, it still rings in my mind as one of the greatest historical fiction books written.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Loreleilouise

    Excellent book. Thoroughly researched. The author used her research to create a compelling heroine and to flesh out all those with whom 'Picture Maker' came into contact with and lived among. Excellent book. Thoroughly researched. The author used her research to create a compelling heroine and to flesh out all those with whom 'Picture Maker' came into contact with and lived among.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rox

    Read this for the first time about 15 years ago. Even better with the passage of time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Loved it. We should all learn history this way

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maddie Cole

    Certainly imaginative. It did immerse me in the daily lives of all the characters, but there were some jarringly out-of-place vocabulary words, as well as some pacing and focus issues.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    Not a book I would recommend, to me it had to much religious bias in it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This book is really great, especially for lovers of historical fiction. It had the effect of making me want to research the cultures and actually learn more, which I think is a hallmark of a good book from the genre.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marion Godwin

    This book came to me via a charity shop on a chance outing, and i must admit, i was drawn primarily by the cover artwork which was reminiscent of my copies of the first three 'Earths Children' books. I was further convinced to part with £1.50 when i saw the statement 'In the style of Jean M Auel'. There are similarities that have been pointed out by various other people, and i compare them a lot in my review, that's mostly for the benefit Auel readers who looked/are looking to this series, or th This book came to me via a charity shop on a chance outing, and i must admit, i was drawn primarily by the cover artwork which was reminiscent of my copies of the first three 'Earths Children' books. I was further convinced to part with £1.50 when i saw the statement 'In the style of Jean M Auel'. There are similarities that have been pointed out by various other people, and i compare them a lot in my review, that's mostly for the benefit Auel readers who looked/are looking to this series, or those who i think judged it too harshly. To really enjoy this book you've got to stop hoping for it to be another Earths Children novel. I wouldn't say Spinka and Auel have identical styles as eluded to by my copy, but there is parity in the descriptive and detailed nature between the two, and once i'd gotten over the fact that Picture Maker wasn't going to be another Ayla, i enjoyed the story a lot more. The book reads uniquely enough that you don't feel as though you're reading Clan of the Cave Bear again, although some people have said the plots are too similar, i disagree. Ayla's story was bound in 'what ifs' and 'maybes', whereas Picture Maker's draws more on known historical fact, and their early life, including how they leave their respective clans is in not really comparable. As the book progresses i found myself liking the protagonist more and more, and i found that unlike the Earths Children series, Picture Maker wasn't going through the story of her life on God Mode. She often didn't win at her attempts, she suffered greatly often with little change of vengeance, and she didn't radically change every culture she came across, which was a refreshing perspective on cross culture travel and one probably more realistic to life. On finishing the book, i immediately wished there was more, such had the characters captivated me, and it certainly lead me to seek out the second book straight away. If i have any criticism, it would be in the possible underdevelopment of some characters, with Picture Maker being one of them at times. I would liked to have known more about her own personal thoughts sometimes, and those of other central characters, as well as more about the mysticism of Native American and Inuit culture, but this was a minor niggle in comparison to how much i enjoyed the story overall.

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