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
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.