Dark Pond

Dark Pond

3.0 1
by Joseph Bruchac

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The author of Skeleton Man returns with another chilling tale.

What kind of sinister creature lurks in the dark pond in the forest? Armie can feel it calling to him . . . and he suspects the answer may lie in the legends of his Shawnee ancestors.

Joseph Bruchac, the award-winning author of Skeleton Man, puts a contemporary spin on Native American lore to create


The author of Skeleton Man returns with another chilling tale.

What kind of sinister creature lurks in the dark pond in the forest? Armie can feel it calling to him . . . and he suspects the answer may lie in the legends of his Shawnee ancestors.

Joseph Bruchac, the award-winning author of Skeleton Man, puts a contemporary spin on Native American lore to create a terrifying tale of monsters and darkness.

Editorial Reviews

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Bruchac crafts a wonderful, quick read. The crackling fast-paced plot will keep even the most reluctant reader involved in the story until the last page.”
Publishers Weekly
As he did with Skeleton Man, Joseph Bruchac once again blends haunting elements of traditional Native American folklore with a modern setting and characters in The Dark Pond, illus. by Sally Wern Comport. Armin, the teenage son of a Shawnee woman and a student at North Mountains School, is plagued by visions he experiences after visiting a mysterious pond one winter afternoon. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The protagonist is a young high school boy named Armie. Armie's mother is of Shawnee descent, and his father is Armenian. Both are professionals who work for Native American justice causes and often need to be gone from home. For that reason, they send Armie to the North Mountains School located in a remote, forested area. Armie has the gift of being able to see and feel things that other people cannot and he quickly establishes rapport with animals of all kinds. For most of his life, he has been teased and isolated because of his strange abilities, but now it is precisely these gifts that lead him to discover that there is something horrifying going on in the pond near the school. The juxtaposition of the mystery and Armie's personal problems related to missing his parents and being an outcast create a thrilling and yet tender story that weaves reality and fantasy into a complex and highly believable whole. Bruchac is of Abenaki ancestry and is an author who consistently writes realistically and non-stereotypically about Native Americans. The whimsical black and white drawings add to the sense of reality and suspense. 2004, HarperCollins, Ages 9 to 15.
—Kathy Egner, Ph.D.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2004: Arnie, part Shawnee and part Armenian, boards at a prep school while his parents, high-powered lawyers, are off working for the rights of native peoples. "Built like a bull" and just as stubborn, Arnie feels awkward with people but he has an uncanny closeness with nature and with animals: birds, for instance, like to ride on his head and shoulders. His prep school is in the Adirondacks and Arnie enjoys hiking in the wilderness, until he starts to feel drawn to a mysterious dark pond in the woods and begins to have nightmares about it. The story of Grendel, which he is studying in class, makes him think of old Native American tales about water monsters and he researches them in the library. Arnie's fears are confirmed when a member of the school grounds crew, a Native American named Mitch Sabattis who is studying zoology, rescues him when the pond calls to him once again. Sabattis suggests that the pond might be the lair of some type of gigantic worm, and he sets out to kill the monster. In a dramatic final scene it nearly kills him, and Arnie must come to his aid. Illustrated with appropriately spooky b/w drawings by Sally Wern Comport, this is a creepy, fast-moving tale that will appeal to fans of horror stories, with a message about self-discovery neatly tucked in as well. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, HarperTrophy, 142p. illus., Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-With its almost unbearably creepy prologue, Bruchac's contemporary novel combining Native American lore and horror will immediately grab readers. Armin Katchatorian, part Shawnee, part Armenian, narrates this tale set at the North Mountains School. He is such a loner that his best communications are with animals, who are naturally drawn to this young man who "feels" things. Armie becomes aware that an ominous pond off established hiking trails is trying to draw him near to it via nightmarish visions and an actual physical pull. After being rescued from entering it by a fox, he notices that although many animal tracks lead into the pond, none return. With an economy of words, Bruchac conveys an atmosphere of increasing tension and fear of this unknown evil. Armie discovers that both the Iroquois and Abenakis spoke often about underwater monsters, and meets Mitch Sabattis, who is working at the school. Recognizing a fellow shaman, the young man warns Armie to stay away from the pond. The novel loses a little steam when the conflict between Mitch's scientific approach meets Armie's more visceral one, but ultimately the two discover just what type of horror lives in the pond. Effectively illustrated by Comport, this eerie story skillfully entwines Native American lore, suspense, and the realization that people and things are not always what they seem to be on the surface, all through the perspective of a resourceful yet insecure young man who learns to value his talents. A perfect choice for reluctant readers.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Dark Pond, The MOB Chapter One

Feeling things. That is one of the gifts I got from my mother, being able to feel things that other people don't. Spooky, isn't it? That is how most other kids see it. And me. Spooky Armie. Ever since I was really little (which was a looong while ago) I've been teased because I was weird. It wasn't just because I looked different, with my thick black hair and my brown skin. It was also because I said things that other kids thought were strange.

In second grade I transferred to a new school. On my first day there I'd made it through the morning by just keeping my head down so I wouldn't be noticed much, but then came recess. I was out on the playground when I felt that something was wrong. It was like I could hear a bunch of little voices calling for help. A group of kids were gathered in a circle at the edge of the soccer field. When I got closer I saw that they were dropping pebbles onto an anthill. I got in between them and the anthill and held up my hands.

"You gotta stop," I said.

"Why?" the biggest kid asked me. He had red hair that stuck straight up. I think his name was Ray, but I'm not entirely sure. I was in three different schools that year, so all the kids who were bullies or made up clever new names for me kind of blend together in my memory.

Anyhow, instead of saying nothing, which would have been the smartest move, I gave him an honest answer.

"You gotta stop 'cause you're hurting them. The ants are all upset. They're really scared." "How do you know that?" the red-haired kid said.

"I can feel it," I said.

"Feel this, weirdo."

Then he pushed me. It ended up with me on the ground, crouched over the top of the anthill, while the other kids poked me and tried to pull me off. Finally a teacher came and broke it up. For the rest of the two months I was at that school the other kids called me Armie the Anteater.

Weirdo. Geronimo. Spookie. Tonto. I won't bore you with all the other nicknames I got over a parade of years and a succession of schools. It sort of changed when, as they say, I got my growth. That happened in sixth grade. Except I didn't just get my growth, I got a good part of someone else's, too. I'd always been stronger than I looked, which surprised some of the bullies who tried pushing me around. But now I was also bigger than I felt. Even though I was so much taller than any of the other kids and people stopped trying to push me around, it didn't mean an end to the names they called me. They just called me names when they thought I couldn't hear them. But most of the time I could.

Of course there were times at a new school when some kids would try to buddy up to me — because I was so big. But I'd gotten so used to being the strange little geek the others pushed around that I just stayed inside myself. Like a kid inside a suit of armor built for a giant. Maybe I wanted friends, but I wasn't going to let them know that. Sooner or later they'd look through the visor of that suit of armor, realize how weird I was, and decide they didn't want me as a friend after all.

People didn't even have to make up names for me. My real name was strange enough. Armin. Armin Katchatorian. I can thank my father for that name, him and all our Armenian ancestors. I can also thank them for being built like a bull and for being endowed with just about as much stubbornness as your average buffalo. When something upsets me, my first impulse is to lower my head and charge. Smart, eh?

A part of me knows just how dumb that kind of behavior is. That awareness of my own stupidity is also something I got from my mother.

"Armin, I just know you'll outgrow that headstrong nature, when wisdom comes to you."

So she says. She even said it when they sent me off to this school with its "personalized counseling and healthful outdoor environment." My mother believes that nature is healing. I pretty much agree with her. It is an Indian thing, I guess. Did I mention that my Mom is Indian? As if being half Armenian wasn't bad enough.

We are Shawnee, the people of the South Wind. Another reason I just loved being sent to a school on the side of the coldest mountain this side of the North Pole. But I suppose it was appropriate. Of all the Indians in North America, it may be that us Shawnees got shoved around from place to place the most, even more than the Cherokees. All the way from the Yucatan peninsula to Florida to the Ohio Valley and then to Oklahoma, and every point in between.

And if you know anything about Armenian history, you'll realize that Mom and Dad were sort of meant for each other. Just like the Shawnees, there were lots of people who didn't want the Armenians to have a country or a history — or a future.

Like I was saying, the North Mountains School is so far north that the locals think the fourth of July is a skiing holiday. It gets so cold that if you light a match, the flame freezes and you have to thaw it out to start a fire. In the winter the birds don't dare sing early in the morning because if they did their songs would freeze around their little beaks and they would suffocate.

Funny, eh? But I can't take credit. Those are all Devo's remarks. I'm not that good at expressing myself. According to Grayson, self-expression is one of the Top Ten Tasks I need to accomplish.

Dark Pond, The MOB. Copyright © by Joseph Bruchac. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Joseph Bruchac is the author of Skeleton Man, The Return of Skeleton Man, Bearwalker, The Dark Pond, and Whisper in the Dark, as well as numerous other critically acclaimed novels, poems, and stories, many drawing on his Abenaki heritage. Mr. Bruchac and his wife, Carol, live in upstate New York, in the same house where he was raised by his grandparents.

Sally Wern Comport has been making pictures professionally since the age of sixteen. Her images have been seen in the editorial, advertising, and publishing markets worldwide, and her work includes the picture book Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure, by Robert D. San Souci. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her studio partner — husband and their two daughters, Taylor and Olivia, and she recently completed her graduate education at Syracuse University to further her passion for the art of illustration.

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