My Texas history class at homeschool co-op read this novel over the holidays. Patricia Beatty wrote over fifty books of historical fiction, and every one of them that I’ve read is a winner. Wait for Me, Watch for Me, Eula Bee is no exception.
Our hero is Lewallen, age thirteen, who’s been left to be the man of the house (and farm) when his older brother and father go off to fight for the Confederacy. Lewallen Collier has a younger brother and a little sister, Eula Bee. Because most of the men have gone to war, the Comanches have become more daring in their raids on farms and ranches, and Lewallen’s family is invited to shelter in the local fort and come back to their farm when the Indians have settled down or when the men have come back. Unfortunately for them, the Collier family make the wrong decision, and they fall victim to a band of Comanches who take Lewallen and Eula Bee captive and kill the rest of the family. (Warning: this scene in the book is fairly violent, not for squeamish readers.)
As a captive of the Comanche, Lewallen learns to work harder than he’s ever worked before, ride a horse like a Comanche, and hunt buffalo. He eventually escapes, but he spends the remainder of the book trying to rescue Eula Bee, for whom he feels a great sense of responsibility. In the course of his adventures, Lewallen saves the life of an Indian chief, becomes friends with the comancheros (Indian traders), and confronts the Kiowa brave who killed some of his family. The question throughout is whether or not Eula Bee will remember Lewallen if he ever finds her again.
The depictions of Comanche life and of Texas frontier life are vivid and memorable. Lewallen is a tough kid who has to grow up fast. And some of the minor characters are well-drawn, too, such as Grass Woman, a captive who has become one of The People (Comanche) and no longer wants to go back to the white man’s ways.
I was particularly struck by the family loyalty that Lewallen showed as he searched for his sister. I wonder if I would have that kind of stamina and faithfulness, or if my kids would.
If you’re teaching this book, here are a couple of links for materials:
Vocabulary quiz for Wait for Me, Watch for Me, Eula Bee
Other Indian captive books:
Trouble’s Daughter: The Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive by Katherine Kirkpatrick. Susanna, daughter of the famous dissenter, Anne Hutchinson, is captured by the Lenape after the massacre of her entire family.She draws strength from the memory of her famous, strong-willed mother, but she finds herself becoming more and more admiring of the Lenape women she comes to know.
I am Regina by Sally M. Keehn. When Regina is captured by the Indians, she repeats her name to herself to remeind herself of her identity. However, after eight years of living with the Indians, all she knows is her Indian name. Based on the true story of Regina Leininger, Pennsylvania, 1755.
The Ransom of Mercy Carter by Caroline Cooney. 11 year old Mercy is taken captive by the Mohawks during the French and Indian War in 1704. Mercy also becomes accustomed to Indian life and may not want to go back when the opportunity arises. Study guide for this book.
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski. 12 year old Mary is captured by the Seneca, based on a true story of a girl by the same name taken by the Indians in New York in 1758. Mary first becomes Corn Tassel, then later gets a new name, Woman of Great Courage. Discussion guide.
Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan, Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania, 1763 by Mary Pope Osborne. Part of the Dear America series. Quaker children Caty Logan and her brother are also captured by the Lenape, and although they eventually return to their home, Caty feels estranged from her family and misses Indian life.
Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: The Story of Cynthia Ann Parker by Caroline Meyer. Cynthia Ann Parker was ckidnapped by the Comanche, married a Comanche leader, had three children, and was then kidnapped back by Texas Rangers in this story based on a true incident.
Captive Treasure by Milly Howard. In a sudden encounter on the trail with a Cheyenne raiding party, Carrie Talbot is taken off to a new life in the Cheyenne camp along the river.
The Raid by G. Clifton Wisler. When his little brother is carried off by raiding Comanches, fourteen-year-old Lige disguises himself as an Indian and joins a former slave in a bold rescue attempt.