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The Legend of the Old Man of the Mountain

Overview

For centuries, the Great Stone Face has kept silent watch from Cannon Mountain, high above the Pemigewasset River. But who is the onlooker and for whom does he keep vigil? Though from warring tribes, Mohawk maiden Minerwa enchants Chief Pemigewasset, and with their union comes peace for many years. But when Minerwa leaves to visit her dying father, Pemigewasset must stay behind. Denise Ortakales recounts the legend of Chief Pemigewasset, whose steadfast love and devotion to his wife is forever honored in his ...
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Overview

For centuries, the Great Stone Face has kept silent watch from Cannon Mountain, high above the Pemigewasset River. But who is the onlooker and for whom does he keep vigil? Though from warring tribes, Mohawk maiden Minerwa enchants Chief Pemigewasset, and with their union comes peace for many years. But when Minerwa leaves to visit her dying father, Pemigewasset must stay behind. Denise Ortakales recounts the legend of Chief Pemigewasset, whose steadfast love and devotion to his wife is forever honored in his profile on the mountainside. Denise Ortakales graduated from the Art Institute of Boston, where she studied illustration and children's literature. Having grown up in the shadow of the Old Man, it was natural for her to write about it as a school assignment. Years later, when the granite formation fell, she knew it was time to share that story with others. This is her first book as an author. She has illustrated several picture books, including Carrot in My Pocket and Good Morning, Garden. Denise lives in Laconia, NH, with her husband and two sons. Artist Robert Crawford graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. His paintings have appeared on the cover of major magazines such as Fortune, Business Week, The Atlantic and U.S. News and World Report, as well as book covers for major publishers including Random House, Penguin/Putnam, and Avon. Robert's work has won numerous awards and has been selected for permanent collection by the United States government and major corporations. Robert lives in Woodbury, Connecticut.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This is the mythical story of the Old Man of the Mountain, a rock formation in the New Hampshire mountains that resembles the profile of an elderly warrior. While native peoples roam the land of the northeast, two warring tribes are united by the love between their chief, Pemigewasset, and Minerwa, the daughter of the chief of the opposing tribe. Pemigewasset and Minerwa enjoy many years of happiness until Minerwa learns her father is dying and chooses to leave Pemigewasset to see to the ailing chief. Pemigewasset swears his love to his wife and promises that he will not rest until her return. He sets up camp on a hill and sends smoke signals until Minerwa is out of range. When Minerwa fails to arrive home at the expected time, the chief refuses to give up hope and remains on the hill even through the freezing nights of winter. After the thaw, members of his tribe find him lifeless in his shelter. They bury him atop the cliff, facing west so that he may look upon Minerwa should she ever return. As the braves descend the hill and look back to say a final good-bye to their chief, they are awed to see his face, immortalized in stone, looking back at them from the rocks. This lovely story of devotion, hope, and love is brought to life by paintings that balance the real and the fantastic to capture the myth as both lived and imagined. 2004, Sleeping Bear Press, Ages 6 to 10.
—Wendy Glenn, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-Initially, this seems like an eloquently written and beautifully illustrated folktale on the origin of a famous geographical feature long considered symbolic of New Hampshire. To summarize, beloved Chief Pemigewasset was immortalized in the cliff-face after waiting in vain, until death, for his wife's return from a long journey. Unfortunately, this is just another in the long line of romantic stories masquerading as indigenous oral traditions. Despite the Indians-as-relics message reinforced by the opening lines, there are many Abenaki people alive and telling stories today, but Ortakales mentions no consultation with any of them (or even any scholarly source) in her introductory note. Instead, she presents her version only as one of "many yarns and tall tales," rendering contemporary Natives voiceless in their own traditions, and inventing substitutes. The illustrator, on the other hand, cites a couple of scholarly institutions in his own acknowledgments. Although the clothing seems too refined for the suggested time period, Crawford's research pays off handsomely in the detail of the wigwams. Ignorant outsiders may well love this book, but readers of indigenous Northeastern cultures will likely spot this title for the fake lore that it is. Love and loyalty to one's spouse is laudable in any culture but, among most American Indian cultures, anyone who waited alone on a hilltop in the dead of winter for someone's return would be considered bizarre, not revered after starving and freezing to death. Readers waiting for an authentic story about the Old Man should beware his fate.-Sean George, Memphis-Shelby County Public Library & Information Center, Memphis, TN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585362363
  • Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2004
  • Series: Myths, Legends, Fairy and Folktales
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 728,291
  • Age range: 6 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.12 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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