Keeping It Relevant

I’ve been busy lately, but there have been some pretty major events in the news that were difficult to miss. A couple of them relate directly to middle grade/young adult literature.

Raul Castro, Barack Obama

President Obama became the first US president on 90 years to visit Cuba. US-Cuba Relations have been intense since 1898 but in 1961, they ceased completely. Things began to thaw around 2012 to the point that just this week, President Obama and several American business leaders are visiting the island nation.

As a young person, I loved learning history and still do. Yet, there is something about fictionalized history that really speaks to me. Perhaps it does so by giving me someone, a character who lived through the event with whom I can relate. Or, perhaps it’s simply that fiction can better play upon my emotions and intellect thus creating a strong response. Knowing how I feel about historical fiction that is well written and well researched leads me to recommend children and young adult fiction about Cuba, particularly works by Cuban American authors.

I have to recommend Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music; Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir; Summer Birds: The Wild Book; Silver MargaritaPeople: Voices from the Panama Canal; The Surrender Tree/El Arbol de La Rendicion: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom/Poemas de La Luche de Cuba Pr Su Libertad and Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish all by Margarita Engle. Engle is a Cuban American writer who detailed the Cuban Missile Crisis from her own childhood perspective in Enchanted Air. She recently spoke of her hopes for improved US/Cuban relations on NPR.

Not too long ago, Latin@s in Kidlit hosted Cuba Week where they highlighted the work of eight Cuban American children’s writers. They wrote about immigration experiences, cubanism, identity and biculturalism. Read more from Guinevere Thomas, Meg Medina, Laura Lacámara, Christina Diaz González, Alma Flor Ada, Enrique Flores Galbis, Nancy Osa and Margarita Engle. The post also curates a list of children’s and young adult books by these and many more Cuban American authors.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.38.54 PM

But then, sometimes even though the books parallel real life the author didn’t do the research and didn’t get it right and the mainstream media gets it no better.  What can we do with this?

There’s a story in the news these days about a foster family trying to keep the child they’ve been fostering for several years. The family is white and the child is Choctaw. Do what I just did. Do a search for “foster children Native American” and you’ll see articles about the incident to which I’m referring float straight to the top. Whether you have any background on this story or not, simply read the headlines and note the bias. She’s ‘part Native’. She was ‘seized from the family’ ‘for being 1/64 Native’ .

I thought foster care was a temporary situation until arrangements could be made to place the child with their family. Sorry, I have a bias, too.

Have you ever seen a story about a child being removed from a foster home making national headlines? Pay attention to the bias.

I think the best place to start building a background is here with NPR. I like this three part series because it immediately mentions the removal of Native American children from their home and shipping them off to boarding schools to make them lose every ounce of their culture, their tribal identity and their heritage. That’s what I thought of when I heard about this young Choctaw girl that this white family wanted to keep in their home. If I’m making this sound racial, that’s because I believe it is. Perhaps I should state ‘That’s what I thought about when I heard about Lexi, a 6 year old Choctaw girl that the Page family wanted to keep in their home.”

And then, NPR gets to the heart of this case: The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act.

How does this relate to YA? In a very odd way, indeed it does. Emily Henry’s recent YA novel, The Love That Split the World is described as follows on Amazon.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

 That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Natalie is actually Native American and adopted by a white family (Did you read about the Indian Child Welfare Act above?) and she’s taken from them. I really appreciate how Debbie Reese walked point by point through this book on Twitter.

So, what do we do with this? I think YA literature can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom. Using the sources I’ve cited above, an ELA or Social Studies teacher can construct a lesson around the 1978 law and build case studies from both the real life event and the book using Debbie’s Storify or the news articles to look at bias, power structures, the use of privilege, identity and Native American history. You’ll probably end up with several students who want to read the book. In any other situation, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing this one but buy creating this lesson that is rich in both critical literacy and metaliteracy, I’d say add this one to the collection and let students use the tools you just taught them. Teach your students how to be smart, engaged and informed citizens.

Connecting fiction to real life is one of the best ways to teach students how to read the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writers on Writing: Cynthia Leitich Smith/Short Stories

Looking for a quick read? Or want to take a chance with a new genre without over committing? How about reading a short story? Cynthia Leitch Smith uses her expertise to guide us through some of the basics of short stories.

From a writer’s perspective, what are the essential differences between a short story and a novel?
Cynthia_Leitich_Smith_Black_SilverAt the risk of stating the obvious, the short story is…shorter. How much shorter is a subject of some debate and arguably a matter of publishing predisposition and/or posturing.

I tend to consider the short story one that takes the protagonist to (or just past) the precipice of change. It’s a narrower, more focused story than the novel, one with texture but not fully developed subplots.

How common is it for a young adult author to write short stories?Things_Ill_Never_Say
Quite common. I’m perhaps on the more prolific end. I’ve published seven YA short stories, mostly in trade hardcover anthologies (one in Cicada Magazine) and two middle
grade shorts, likewise in anthologies. My most recent are “Cupid’s Beaux” which appears in Things I’ll Never Say: Stories of Our Secret Selves, edited by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015) and “All’s Well” which serves as a chapter from Violent Ends, edited by Shaun David Hutchison (Simon Pulse, 2015).

What young adult short stories or collections would you recommend for educators, librarians or teens?moccasin_thunder_large
My top pick would be Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, edited by Lori M. Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005), with the caveats that I’m among the contributors and that I dearly wish there was a more current collection of shorts
by Native authors.

open_micI’d also like to highlight Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, edited by Mitali Perkins (Candlewick, 2013).

Are fan fiction short stories very popular with teens?
Teens and grown-ups, too. You’ll find both among the readers and writers. Setting aside the copyright implications, fan fiction is essentially about imagining “what if” with the work of character and world building already in place. It’s an invitation to play with plot.

feral_Pride_finalWhat can we expect from you in 2016?
I look forward to the paperback release of Feral Pride (Candlewick, 2016), the final novel in the Tantalize-Feral universe. To varying degrees, the heroes of the Tantalize books join those of the Feral novels. It was great fun to write, especially those scenes in which protagonists who’d never previously met (like Quincie P. Morris and Yoshi Kitahara) appeared on page together. By that ninth book, I know what each might say or do under a given set of circumstances. The novel is a love letter of sorts to both the heroes and their most devoted readers.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is an award winning and best selling author who is noted for writing with diversity, humor, lyricism, imaginativeness, compelling action, and mid-to-southwestern settings. A complete list of Cynthia’s short stories can be found here. Her YA short story “Cat Calls” is available at no charge from Barnes and Noble.

Saturday Trailer: Dreaming in Indian

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday? Dreaming in Indian is a non-fiction book that was released in 2014 by editors Lisa Charleyboy (Tsilhqot’in) and Mary Beth Leatherdale. Charleyboy is the Editor in Chief of Urban Native Magazine and Leatherdale writes, edits and consults on books, magazines and digital resources for children and youth.

review: Feral Nights

title: Feral NightsFeral+Nights+Final

author: Cynthia Leitich Smith

date: Candlewick; 2013

main character: Yoshi Kitihara

Yoshi is a high school senior being raised by his grandmother in Oklahoma well, until grams catches him with this girl he brought home for the night. Gram has a strict “No Company Allowed” policy that she enforces with a shotgun. Yoshi is given the boot and he decides to head to Texas in search of his sister, Ruby. Oh, they’re a werecat family.

Feral Nights is told in multiple voices. While I’ve had enough of multi voiced books to last me a lifetime, Leitich Smith carries it off quite well. The voices are unique and easy to distinguish.

There’s Clyde, a werepossum with 4 younger siblings. He sees ghosts.

Travis, whom Ruby is suspected of killing. He’s a ghost.

And there’s Aimee, a human who genuinely likes werepeople.

The witty dialog and use of present tense writing keep the story moving at a brisk pace. Leitich Smith smoothly packs in a unique, descriptive backstory as she builds an incredible world of werepeople, vampires, deities and humans. Wereanimals (werecats, wereorcas, werebears, werelions…) are at the core of the story with a werecat accused of killing a werearmadillo. More than that, they’re Ruby and Travis. While everyone has animal characteristics, they each also have fully developed human personalities. That Leitich Smith manages to do this all in 290 pages is amazing. Just as the reader has gotten familiar with the characters and the relationships they’re building, everything flips on its head. Needless to say, this is not a predictable story.

This review is really doing the book little justice because Leitich Smith so flawlessly weaves her tale. It’s like watching anyone who does something well: you don’t want to pick it apart because you just want to enjoy the artistry.

Feral Nights is the first book in the Feral Series. Feral Curse was released this past January and Feral Pride is forthcoming. All books are published by Candlewick. Cynthia Leitich Blogs at Cynsations. She’s the best selling author of the Tantalize series, Jingle Dancer (HarperCollins) and Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins) and number other books.

Review: House of Purple Cedar

Hproductsprimary_image_215_touse of Purple Cedar

Author: Tim Tingle

Date:  February, 2014; Cinco Puntos

adult crossover

The House of Purple Cedar is set in Skullyville, Oklahoma at the turning of the 20th century. The New Hope Academy for Girls just burned down and a new Indian Agent has just arrived in town. Rose and her brother, Jamey joined Amofo, their grandfather, for a trip into town, a rare treat that would replace their daily chores. This outing actually placed them in the right place at the wrong time. The town marshall appears, alcohol leads to events and Amofo is struck with a board.

House of Purple Cedar unfolds as a story of how those who are disempowered choose to react when they are abused. The process of deciding how to react was a slow, deliberate process for Amofo as it was for Choctaw elders and Rose keenly observes this process. The narrative voice changes and we come to understand power balances throughout the community. We realize that while an individual’s actions define their own relationship, the community as a whole plays a role in allowing things to happen.

There are houses of purple cedar in the story, however, I’m not sure why ‘purple cedar’. I’ve spent some time researching this wood and can’t find anything about it. The more I looked, the more curious I’ve become about its significance.

Tingle manages better than most to weave in and out of time and back and forth between narrative voices. Rose, a young girl throughout most of the story, is the only character who has a narrative voice thus making the book appealing to young readers. Rose lives with her parents and grandparents in a home outside the city. Skullyville is a small community where Choctaw and Nahullos (Whites) all know each other, worship separately, maintain prejudices and come together in unpredictable ways. While Choctaw identity is essential to the story, this isn’t a story about being Choctaw.

‘Hearing’ the community sing “Amazing Grace” will give you goose bumps. Tingle brings faith to life and makes it another character in this story. No doubt, Tingle is a storyteller! He brings together many characters, details and events in this story in a very gentle, purposeful way.

Thank you, Bobby Byrd  of Cinco Puntos, for providing me a review copy at ALA Midwinter!

SundayMorningReads

I had to get up and turn the heat up before starting this post. It is definitely getting colder outside. Yesterday was Cookies and Cocktails and I spent the day baking cookies with my sister. No doubt it was a long, long day but it’s a tradition we do not want to give up any time soon. I’ve boxes wrapped and ready to ship off to family and friends who I hope will enjoy eating them as much as we did baking them! I’ve also contacted several people for my annual Cookie Traditions posts and hopefully those will begin rolling in soon.

Zetta Elliott has beem working on completing her annual list of MG and YA books by African American authors.

In doing this work, Zetta urged me to collate my list according to ethnicity so that we can see how many books were compiled by Native Americans, Asian Americans and Latino/as as well. I cleaned up my list removing nonfiction titles and a few that I decided are too young for MG readers and categorized the books I found. I added the titles I didn’t have that Zetta found and some from Debbie Reese as well. I am sure there are books written by authors of color and published by traditional publishers that I have missed, and hope that you will mention them in the comments.

Does this matter? Of course, it does. I’ve been saying for months the numbers and dropping and I’d like to figure out why, particularly since the overall number of children’s books is up this year. This year we say Neesha Meminger, L. Divine and B.A. Binns all self publish. Don’t you think its time for another YA from Cindy Pon? Alex Sanchez? Medeia Shariff? Dia Reeves?

“In the Margins Committee  

What is it?  A group of librarians creating a committee to seek out and highlight books:  preschool through adult fiction and non-fiction titles of high-interest appeal to boys or girls, ages 9-18  who may fit into one or all of the following categories:

 multicultural (primarily African American and Latino)  from a street culture  in restrictive custody  reluctant readers  What does it do?  The committee will select and review the best books of the year, specifically for the population listed above. Titles of interest will be unusual, possibly unreviewed,  have multicultural characters, dealing with difficult situations including (but not limited to) street life, marginalized populations, crime, justice, war, violence, abuse, addiction, etc. The first year we will also review a few older titles that may not have been reviewed previously but which are deserving of attention.

 Committee membership and requirements:   research and nominate titles that are self published, independently and published by small presses  provide written review of books, and read for special content for detention facilities  read all nominated titles  work with or do outreach to teens in custody and/or from street culture.  get feedback from at least 3-10 teens on each title  actively participate in email discussions  meet 1-4 times a year via video conferencing and/or in person  opportunity to blog in column about your and your youth’s experiences with a certain title or author  Don’t delay – Apply today!”

No doubt incarcerated teens need books which will interest them as these teens often have incredibly poor reading skills. And I think the intent of this committee is to review books for those who work with incarcerated teens.  If I read correctly, these reviews will appear in SLJ as the chair of the In the Margins Committee now has a blog on SLJ’s site. Will this blog be balanced with one that gives a wider representation to African American and Latino (and Native American and Asian American) literature?  What effort will SLJ make to educate readers about the vast contrtibutions writers of color make to teen literature and the even broader reading preferences of teens of color?

This is what the CCBC reported  for 2011:  We received approximately 3,400 books at the CCBC in 2011. Of those,

• 123 books had significant African or African American content

• 79 books were by Black authors and/or illustrators

• 28 books had American Indian themes, topics, or characters

• 12 books were by American Indian authors and/or illustrators

• 91 books had significant Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American content

• 76 books were by authors and/or illustrators of Asian/Pacific heritage

• 58 books had significant Latino content

• 52 books were by Latino authors and/or illustrators

This is what I found so far for 2012.

MULTI-ETHNIC

1. Diverse Energies edited by Tobias Buchnell and Joe Monti; Tu Books, November

NATIVE AMERICAN
1. Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith, illus. by Blake Henry;Clarion Books,  Feb. 22
2. Outcasts of River Falls: sequel to Belle of Batoche by Jaqueline Guest; Regina Coteau Books for Kids, 1 Apr
3. Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith; Candlewick Press; 14 Feb

ASIAN AMERICAN

1. The friendship matchmater by Randa Abdel-Fattah; Frances Lincoln, 6 Sept
2. What’s Left of Me: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One by Kat Zhang; Harper Collins, 18 September MG
3. Adaptation by Malinda Lo; Litte, Brown Books for Young Readers 18 Sept
4. Ash Mistry and the savage fortress by Sadwat Chadda; Harper Collins, October
5. The girl who lept through time  by Yasutaka Tsutsui and David Karashima; Alma Books 1 Sept
6. Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee and Dan Santant;  Scholastic, 1 Aug
7. A beautiful lie  by Irfan Master; Albert Whitman & Company, 1 August
8. The choke artist: confessions of a chronic underachiever by David Yoo; Grand Central, 19 June
9. Reincarnation (Legend of Snow Wolf series) by Fred Lit Yu; China Books,   1 June
10. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons; Tor, 2012
11.     Dumpling Days by Grace Lin; Little Brown Books for Young Readers; 2 Jan
12.    Tina’s mouth: an existential comic diary by Keshni Kashyap and Mari Araki; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 3 January
13.     The whole story of half a girl by Veera Hirandandani; Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 2012
14.     Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani; HarperTeen; 17 Jan
15. Fair Coin  by E. C. Myers; Pyr, 27 March
16. Another Jekyl another Hyde  by Daniel and Dina Nayeri; 27  March, Candlewick
17. The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda; St Martin’s  Griffin, Apr. 19

18. The mapmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash; Walker Book Childrens, 24 April

19.   The Agency 3: Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee, Candlewick, February

LATINO/A
1. A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez; Knopf Books for Young Readers 9 October
2. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadelupe Garcia McCall; Tu Books, October
3. BorderTown #4: No Second Chances by Malin Alegria; Scholastic Nov.
4. The revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano; Scholastic, 1 Sept
5. Con carino/Love Amalia by Alma Flor Ada; Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 10 July
6.  Choke by Diana Lopez; Point; 12 July
7. Border Town #2: Quince Clash by Malin Alegria; Scholastic, 1 July
8. Bordertown #1 Crossing the line  by Malin Alegria; Scholastic, May MG
9. Body Slammed! by Ray Villareal; Pinata Books, 30 Apr
10.     Border Town#1: Crossing the line by Malin Alegria; Scholastic 1 May
11.     Prom dates to die for by Kelly Parra; Buzz Books; 1 May
12. Irises  by Francisco X. Stork; Authur A. Levine; Jan 2012
13.     Facts of life: stories by Gary Soto; Graphia, January
14.     The glass collector by Anna Perera; Albert Whitman and Co. 1 Feb
15. Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz; Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 21 Feb
16. The girl who could silence the wind by Meg Medina; Candlewick, 13 March
17. The Temptation: A Kindred Novel by Alisa Valdes; HarperTeen, Apr. 4

AFRICAN AMERICAN
2. No Boyz Allowed by Ni-Ni Simone; Dafina Books, 31 July
3. Hollywood High by Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams, Dafina Books, 25 Sept
4. Pinned by Sharon Flake; Scholastic, 1 October MG
5. Time to Shine by Nikki Carter; Dafina Books, 30 Oct
6. Crazy Love by Amir Abrams; Dafina Books, 27 Nov
7. Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a not so smart miss know it all by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin, October
8. Fading Amber: The cambion chronicles #3 by Jaime Reed; K’Teen Dafina 26 December
9. Kiki doin’ it (Juicy Central)  Saddleback, 1 Sept
10. Marnyke: the fake date  (Juicy Central); Saddleback
11. Tia Diva, (Juicy Central) Saddleback Sept
12. Sherise Stalked,(Juicy Central) Saddleback, Sept.
13. Nishell Tempted by Stephanie Perry Moore (Juicy Central); Saddleback, 1 Sept
14. Settle down/be real Cheer Drama/Baller Swag; Lockwood High Series by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback
15. The diary of B. B. Bright possible princess by Alice Randall, Caroline Randall Williams and Shadra Strickland (illustrator); Turner Publishing 4 Sept
16. Charly’s Epic Fiasco by Kelli London, Dafina Books, 28 Aug
17.     A Certain October by Angela Johnson; Simon and Schuster; August
18.     Denim diaries 6 Lying to live by Darrian Lee; Urban Books, 28 August
19.     Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon; Aladdin, August
20.     The Cruisers 3: A star is born by Walter Dean Myers; Scholastic 1 Aug
21.     Dork diaries 4: Tales from a not so graceful ice princess by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin, June
22.      Back to me by Earl Sewll; Kimani Tru 1 July
23. Always upbeat Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series)by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback, 1 June
24.     Keep jumping/no hating Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series) by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback 1 June
25.     Settle down/be real Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series)by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback 1 June
26.     Yell out/Do you Cheer Drama (Lockwood High Series) by Stephanie Perry Moore; Saddleback 1 June
27.     Back to me  by Earl Sewell; Kimani Tru; 19 June
28.     Lone bean by Chudney Ross; Amistad, June
29. Download Drama  by Celeste O. Norfleet; Kimani Tru, May 20
30.     37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon; Henry Holt, May 3
31.     Happy families  by Tanita Davis; Knopf Books for Young Readers, 8 May
32.     Burning Emerald: The Cambion Chronicles #2 by Jaime Reed; K-Teen/Dafina; May
33. Creeping with the enemy (Langdon Prep)by Kimberyly Reid; Dafina, 24 April
34. Black Boy White School by Brian F. Walker; HarperTeen 3 Jan
35.     The mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis; Wendy A. Lamb Books, January MG
36.     The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards; HarperCollins, 17 Jan
37.     Best shot in the west: the adventures of Nat Love by Patricia C. McKissack, Frederick L. McKissack and Randy Duburke; Chronicle Books,  18 January GRAPHIC NOVEL
38.     Mesmerize  by Artist Arthur; Kimani Tru, January
39.     The clone codes #3: the visitors by Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick McKissack and Pat McKissack; Scholastic, 1 February
40.     Beneath a meth moon  by Jacqueline Woodson; Nancy Paulsen Books, February
41.     No crystal stair  by Vaunda Michaux Nelson; Carolrhoda Press, February
42.     DJ Rising by Love Maia; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 6 Feb
43. Power Hitter  by M. C. Higgins; Darby Creek Pub, March
44. Boyfriend season: Cali boys  by Kelli London; K’Teen, 27 March
45. Creeping with the enemy (Langdon Prep)by Kimberyly Reid; Dafina, 24 April
46. All the right stuff  by Walter Dean Myers; Amistad, 24 April
47. The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson;  Margaret K. McElderry Books , 17 April
48. On the flip side: A fab life novel #4 by Nikki Carter; KTeen Dafina; 28 February
49. Ship of souls by Zetta Elliott; AmazonEncore, 28 Feb
50. Bad boy by Dream Jordan; St. Martin Griffin, 28 Feb

What’s missing??

MaleMonday

Male Monday started with Ari @ Reading in Color

My package from Lee and Low arrived this weekend and one of the books in it was Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac. I also picked up his MG book The Warriors  during my recent visit to Half Priced Books. So, just who is Joseph Bruchac?

  • He’s the author of poetry, short stories, novels, anthologies and music that reflect his Abenaki Indian heritage and Native American traditions.
  • His work as an educator includes eight years of directing a college program for Skidmore College inside a maximum security prison.
  • He has been a storyteller-in-residence for Native American organizations and schools throughout the continent, including the Institute of Alaska Native Arts and the Onondaga Nation School.
  • His awards include the American Book Award; Horn Book honor; Cherokee Nation Prose Award; Hope S. Dean Award for Notable Achievement in Children’s Literature;  Virginia Hamilton Literary Award;  Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas;  Knickerbocker
  • his son, James, is also an accomplished storyteller
Bruchac offers this personal narrative on his Scholastic Book Author’s Page.

I grew up in the small town of Greenfield Center, New York, which is in the foothills of the Adirondacks not far from the city of Saratoga Springs. It is a place I love, close to the forests and the mountains.

I was raised by my grandparents, who had a little general store. My grandmother, Marion Dunham Bowman, was a graduate of Albany Law School. Although she never did practice law, she kept the house filled with books. It’s because of her that I was always reading.

My grandfather, Jesse Bowman, was of Abenaki Indian descent. He could barely read and write, but I remember him as one of the kindest people I ever knew. I followed him everywhere. He showed me how to walk quietly in the woods and how to fish. He told me that his father never spanked him, but would only talk to him when he misbehaved. He raised me in the same way.

I loved my grandparents’ little general store. I helped out as much as I could, ringing up purchases on the cash register and washing customers’ cars and windows. In the fall and winter, I would sit around the wood stove and listen to the local farmers and lumberjacks tell tall tales. One of those men was Lawrence Older. When I grew up, he taught me the songs and stories he knew about the Adirondacks.

I started to write when I was in the second grade. I wrote poems to my teacher. One day, when she read one to the class, some of the bigger boys got jealous. They beat me up after school. That was my first experience with hostile literary critics. But I kept on writing. And I was always reading, especially classic children’s stories about animals.

I think I always knew I would be a writer some day, but it wasn’t until I was grown and had children of my own that I turned to telling Native American stories. My Indian grandfather never told those stories to me. Instead, I began to seek them out from other Native elders as soon as I left home for college. I wanted to share those stories with my sons, so I started to write them down. My first book of stories was published in 1975.

Bruchac continues to live in his grandparent’s home in New York.  I am eager to get to know Mr. Bruchac through his  writings be reviewing Warriors and Wolf Mark soon.