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Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. For more information about Joseph, please visit his website www.josephbruchac.com.
Told from the alternating points of view of Native American Ohkwa'ri and his twin sister Otsi:stia, this historic novel shows a Mohawk village during the best of times: after the Great League of Peace is formed and before European settlers rob the tribe of its land. The story revolves around 11-year-old Ohkwa'ri's conflicts with a pompous bully, but the plot is less essential than the painstakingly wrought details about the tribe's daily rituals, legends and annual celebrations. Bruchac, who states in an afterword that his book is "the result of a lifetime of learning from my Mohawk friends and neighbors," eloquently conveys how democracy, respect and justice are integral components of the Native Americans' religion and government. Besides learning the origins of modern-day lacrosse and certain kinds of tool-making, readers will come away from this novel with a broadened awareness of a nearly vanished culture. Ages 8-11. (June)
Gr 3-6‘Ohkwa'ri is hiding in a shaded area when he overhears the misguided Grabber's intentions to start a war with the neighboring Anen:taks tribe. Although the boy is barely 11 winters old, he realizes something must be done to stop his fellow tribesman's plans. Set in a longhouse village in upstate New York, Bruchac's story establishes a sense of place in the first chapter: Ohkwa'ri works to become a respected member of his tribe, while Grabber and his cohorts, Greasy Hair, Falls a Lot, and Eats Like a Bear, attempt to get even with him. Despite the predictability of the plot, young readers will enjoy the glimpses of Native American culture. The importance of respect and honor are clearly outlined through Ohkwa'ri's feelings toward his elders such as his grandmother and his uncle. On his own, the earnest young hero builds and sleeps in his own lodge, illustrating independence and self-sufficiency. Other aspects of Native life such as name giving, government, and family relations are outlined. The mixing of fact with fiction is consistent and believable. Jan Hudson's Sweetgrass (Scholastic, 1991) or Elizabeth George Speare's The Sign of the Beaver (Dell, 1993) are more absorbing, yet Bruchac's latest offering is a good choice for large collections.‘Julie Shatterly, York County Public Library, Rock Hill, SC