A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero

Gina Capaldi (Author)


This story reveals the remarkable life of a Native American boy named Wassaja, or Beckoning, who was kidnapped from his Yavapai tribe and sold as a slave. Adopted by an Italian photographer in 1871 and renamed Carlos Montezuma, the young boy traveled throughout the Old West, bearing witness to the prejudice against and poor treatment of Native Americans. Carlos eventually became a doctor and leader for his people, calling out for their rights. Gina Capaldi's exquisite paintings bring to life excerpts from Dr. Carlos Montezuma's own letters describing his childhood experiences. The culminating portrait provides an inventive look back into history through the eyes of a Native American hero.

Product Details

$9.99  $9.19
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
August 06, 2019
9.5 X 0.1 X 9.3 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About the Author

As a freelance artist, Gina Capaldi has both written and illustrated books that range from nonfiction, educational, and picture books. Her favorite published works are her historical nonfiction, such as A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero. One of Gina's earlier books on American Indians has been recommended for elementary school social studies curriculum in the Virginia School systems. Gina Capaldi attended Malibu's Pepperdine University; Art Center & College of Design in Pasadena, California; and Pitzer College in Claremont, California.


"Capaldi uses Montezuma's own words to tell this gripping story of a Yavapai boy who was captured by the Pima in 1871 and grew up to become a prominent doctor and Native American spokesperson. Solidly researched, the well-written text follows Wassaja (later renamed Carlos Montezuma) as he was sold into slavery and purchased by a kind Italian photographer. He demonstrated such a gift for learning that he graduated from the University of Illinois at 17. After becoming a doctor, Montezuma searched for his parents and siblings and learned the sad truth about their lives and deaths. A full-page author's note addresses 'Dr. Montezuma - The Activist, ' including his 'Let My People Go' speech to the U.S. Senate in 1916. The illustrations are stunning, with multiple perspectives and rich gold and brown tones. Superimposed over basket imagery, side panels feature photographs and supplemental information. The detailed bibliography lists books, Web sites, letters, and speeches. This title should be promoted for Native American, multicultural, and biography units." --School Library Journal
"In her author's note, Capaldi calls the story of Carlos Montezuma, 'a testament to the character, heart, and human spirit.' And so it is. As a child in 1866, Carlos (then called Wassaja), a Yavapai Indian living in the Arizona territory, was kidnapped by an enemy tribe. Luckily he was purchased by Italian photographer Carlo Gentile, who renamed him and raised him as his son. Together, they travelled the West taking pictures. After settling down in Chicago, Carlos proved himself so bright that he went to college at the age of 14, then attended medical school, eventually returning to Arizona to help his people and find his family. Drawing on a letter to the Smithsonian Institution and incorporating information from interviews, articles, and speeches, Capaldi uses Carlos' own words, throughout, to draws the reader close. Attractive watercolor paintings in desert colors are the backdrop for the text, but the design cleverly uses photographs placed in the margins, which make a strong visual counterpoint to the art. An extensive afterword, a source note, and a bibliography add much for researchers. Fresh and fascinating." --Booklist
"The life of Dr. Carlos Montezuma embodies part of the Native-American experience during the late 1800s. Montezuma, born Wassaja (Beckoning), was kidnapped by a neighboring tribe at the age of five and sold to a traveling photographer, Carlo Gentile. They settled in Chicago where Montezuma went to school and eventually graduated with a medical degree. His first job as a reservation doctor exposed him to the harsh living conditions and prejudices faced by Native Americans. He became a vocal advocate, working for equal treatment and improved rights. Montezuma's story is told in the form of a letter; accompanying illustrations are painted in big bold brush strokes of vivid earth tones. The loose portrayal of faces and scenes is in sharp contrast to the archival photographs - many of which were taken by Gentile. An epilogue and extensive bibliography of sources conclude this superb biographical piece. Author Gina Capaldi does an admirable job of discussing the research process. This picture book for older readers will be a valued addition to the biography section of every public or school library. Highly Recommended." --Library Media Connection