Ten-year-old Walking Turtle is of the Lenni-Lenape tribe. He lives with his family in a small village alongside the Passaic River in what will become northeastern New Jersey. They have a relatively peaceful life, with nature offering up a bounty of resources for food and shelter, amply meeting their needs.
Walking Turtle is close to his younger cousin, Little Talk, who has difficulty walking. He feels protective of him. Together they roam the forests near their village, with Walking Turtle carrying his cousin on his back.
But in the autumn of Walking Turtle’s tenth year, his father tells him that soon he must leave childhood friends behind and begin warrior school. Walking Turtle worries about what will become of Little Talk when he leaves for his training.