American Girl Publishing
Reprinted by Skyview Books
Audio Version by Recorded Books
Digital Versions by Open Road Media

trouble at fort la pointe, american girl mysteries

"Edgar Nominee for Best Children's Mystery"
— Mystery Writers of America

"Ernst has written a well-plotted mystery and does a commendable job of integrating setting and cultural details into the story."

"The story moves well and reveals much about the life of French and Indian traders and the culture in this region."
Children's Literature


The national award-nominated Trouble at Fort La Pointe is the first of Kathleen's mysteries for American Girl, and her fifth published book. It's written for readers age 9 and up who are interested in historical fiction without sex, gore, or explicit violence.

Story Description

Suzette Choudoir has spent each of her twelve summers at La Pointe Island on Lake Superior, where Ojibwe people camp by the French fur-trade fort.  It is 1732 and if her papa wins the trappers' competition, the prize will let him stay with his Ojibwe family year-round instead of wintering in far-off Montréal with the other French voyageurs. But a troublemaker sabotages the competition, and Papa. Only someone who's both Ojibwe and French can figure out what's going on -- someone like Suzette. 


This book includes a richly illustrated "Peak Into The Past" essay, glosseries of French and Ojibwe words, and an author's note.

This story was originally released as a 165-page book in softcover and hardcover formats, but is now available as an audiobook.

What Others Are Saying

This American Girl History Mystery is a delight. Suzette Choudoir, age 12 in 1732 and living for the summer on Lake Superior's La Point Island, loves both her Ojibwa mother and her French father. She does not want to choose one or the other, even though this is a real possibility when her father is accused of stealing prior to the trapper competition he must win to erase his debt as a voyageur. Suzette is determined to solve the mystery of the missing furs.

Without individualizing each voice, the reader conveys well Suzette's many emotions and adventures among the mixed community at the trading post. The author has included at the end an overview of fur trading in the Lake area and the relationship between the Ojibwa and the newcomers, but the perceptive listener will have already absorbed much of this history through the gripping story. Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers."
— KLIATT (Audiobook Review)

"Twelve-year-old Suzette, her Ojibwe mother, and her French voyageur father live on the coast of Lake Superior near the fur trading post at Fort La Pointe. Papa has entered a fur competition and, if he wins, he will be able to spend the entire year with his family instead of wintering in Montreal with the voyageurs. Unfortunately, someone is conspiring against Papa: a bale of furs disappears from the trading post and the evidence suggests that Papa is responsible. Suzette investigates and uncovers the identity of the true thief.

Ernst has created a well-plotted mystery, sprinkled judiciously with clues, and she does a commendable job of integrating setting and cultural details into the story. Less convincing is Suzette's determined, independent personality, which, although an essential part of the story, seems out of sync with the novel's early-eighteenth-century backdrop. Still, mystery fans and children who liked other books in the History Mysteries series are sure to enjoy this, and probably pick up a little history along the way."
Booklist (American Library Association)

"Suzanne Choudoir has lived all of her 12 years with her mother's Ojibwe people in what is now northern Wisconsin. They summer on La Pointe Island on Lake Superior in a large camp and winter on the mainland in small family groups. Suzanne's father is a voyageur, a white man hired by the French fur-trading companies to collect the furs trapped during the winter and bring them back to Montreal.

This year, from the moment Suzanne's family sets out for La Pointe there is trouble, culminating in her father being accused of stealing. Only Suzanne believes in his innocence, and in a series of daring acts and deductions that seem improbable if not impossible, she clears his name, enabling him to buy out his contract and stay with his family year-round. The "Looking Back: 1732" section is filled with facts, small full-color photos, and a map."
School Library Journal

 "...addressing of cross-cultural issues within the context of a gripping story is the strength of the book."
Multicultural Review 

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries and historical fiction for adults and young readers. Her work has earned numerous honors, including multiple Edgar and Agatha mystery award nominations, and an Emmy for children's educational programming.

To date readers have purchased over 1.7M printed, ebook, and audio copies of Kathleen's thirty-five published books. more>>

Related Blog Posts

Enjoy the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings.

TAFLP: The Story Behind The Story

Photo by Kathleen Ernst of a Native American lodge at Grand Portage National Monument, Minnesota. I thought about writing a story about the Great Lakes’ fur trade era for a long time. Lake Superior is beautiful, and the region’s history is fascinating. From 1650 to 1850, the fur trade was the most important “business” in the area that...  more>>

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Author Note

This was the first book I wrote for American Girl. I wanted to create a character who lived during the fur trade era, in what is now northern Wisconsin.

Suzette, who has an Ojibwe mother and a French father, needs to use skills and knowledge from both cultures to solve a problem that threatens her family.

I hope the mystery keeps you guessing!

For information about the research that went into creating this book, please read The Story Behind The Story blog post at the bottom of this page. 

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Trouble at Fort La Pointe book cover painted by Jean-Paul Tibbets, written by Kathleen Ernst, published by American Girl., american girl mysteries PREVIEW
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Fur Trade Encampment - Madeline Island, Wisconsin

Audiobook Sample

           Link to Audio Sample of Trouble at Fort La Pointe