Janet Taylor Lisle
The Crying Rocks

“What was that?” Carlos asks.
Joelle listens but hears nothing, only the sound of wind kicking branches overhead. "What?”
“A scream. Did you hear it?”
She shakes her head. "No. Nothing."

Carlos listens again. “Somewhere over there is a mass of glacial boulders called the Crying Rocks.” His face, in shadow, has taken on a stern, gaunt look. For the first time, Joelle sees, or imagines she sees, a vague outline of his Indian ancestry—something about his nose and the slope of his forehead. He is gazing intently into the forest.

“The story is that when you pass by these rocks at certain times, you hear children crying,” he says.
“Children! What children?”
Around them, tree shadows flick and twist.
“Ghosts of Indian children,” Carlos says. “They were killed there or something. A long time ago.”
“It's getting so dark,” Joelle murmurs.
In that moment an eerie feeling descends on them both.
“Let's get out of here,” Carlos whispers.

With Carlos as guide, 13-year-old Joelle has been making trips into wilderness areas near their southern Rhode Island town. The two have been visitng places once home to early Narragansett Indians who were driven from the land more than three hundred years ago. It's a kind of history Joelle can deal with, unlike her personal past. An adopted child, she recalls nothing of her life before being rescued, age five, from a Connecticut railway depot. So she scoffs when Carlos tells her that she looks like early Native American figures in a mural in the town library.

Visiting the painting, she feels the strange pull of a memory, however. It slides away before she can make sense of it, then teases her again when, during a forest hike, she imagines shadowy forms of Indian hunters walking a path parallel to hers. What is Joelle's connection to this distant American past? Where can she draw the line between personal memory and myth? Soon, she and Carlos are researching the tragic history of the Crying Rocks, a place whose ghosts seem too restless and too real to be only imagination.

Awards and Honors

New York Public Library 'Books for the Teen Age' 2006
Nominated, Best Books for Young Adults, 2004
A 2004 VOYA Perfect Ten

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Janet Taylor Lisle
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