It's really damning that it didn't occur to her that it at least needed explaining within the context of the world she built-- it's as if Natives were already invisible to her, and she swept them out of her alternate world without noticing what she had done, so she never felt she had to account for it. But kids aren't dumb; lots of readers, not just Natives, will be wondering, "but where are the native people in the New World in this alternate history?"
Over at dreamwidth on LiveJournal (so grateful to you, spiralsheep!), I found this excerpt and its link.
The *plan* is for it to be a "settling the frontier" book, only without Indians (because I really hate both the older Indians-as-savages viewpoint that was common in that sort of book, *and* the modern Indians-as-gentle-ecologists viewpoint that seems to be so popular lately, and this seems the best way of eliminating the problem, plus it'll let me play with all sorts of cool megafauna). I'm not looking for wildly divergent history, because if it goes too far afield I won't get the right feel.
I agree with her on the 'hate' of what she calls "viewpoints." I don't think of them as viewpoints, though. Framing them as viewpoints legitimates them in a way they do not deserve. They are, in short, stereotypes. The bad and the good Indian, the bloodthirsty and the holier-than-thou. And forgive this bit of snarkyness: EARTH TO WREDE. YOU SAID WAS COMMON, SUGGESTING THAT THE 'INDIANS-AS-SAVAGES' PORTRAYAL DOESN'T HAPPEN ANYMORE. WRONG. IT IS STILL THERE.
Where she falls off the cliff, though, is when she says "without Indians." Beneath her words is an assumption about her audience: who it is, what they will buy, what they will revere, what they will notice... or not. It is pretty interesting for me to think about, especially because, as her bio on the Amazon website says, she lives in Minnesota! Lots of reservations there, and lots of Ojibwe's and Dakotas. Are they invisible to Wrede?!
The product description at Amazon says
"With wit and wonder, Patricia Wrede creates an alternative history of westward expansion that will delight fans of both J. K. Rowling and Laura Ingalls Wilder."
Wilder? Bingo! Elizabeth Bird at SLJ blogged the book, too. Read her review, and the comments. I am glad that the book is being discussed. I am confident that some writers will read everything being written about it, and be mindful of what they do with their own books. Course, there will be those who dig in their heels, too, and go along their Merry Manifest Destiny Way.
I wonder what Wrede will do with the discussion. The book is the FIRST in a series she's launched. I wonder what her editor is thinking, too. Controversy. Some writers (like Ann Rinaldi) say (with glee, it seems) that the controversy over a book makes it sell better. Likely so, but, Rinaldi didn't write any more books about American Indians after that, so, controversy also has a plus side for those of us who are tired of books like Thirteenth Child.