The World Before This One

Overview


The author of THE ROUGH-FACE GIRL creates a magical coming-of-age novel built from thousands of years of Seneca legend. Now in paperback!

Crow is a Seneca boy, coming of age in a time of war, in a time before stories. Cast out of the Seneca tribe, Crow and his grandmother struggle merely to find enough food to make it through the harsh winter. Then Crow finds a boulder in the woods that startles him by speaking. The Storytelling Stone tells Crow the great legends of the ...

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Overview


The author of THE ROUGH-FACE GIRL creates a magical coming-of-age novel built from thousands of years of Seneca legend. Now in paperback!

Crow is a Seneca boy, coming of age in a time of war, in a time before stories. Cast out of the Seneca tribe, Crow and his grandmother struggle merely to find enough food to make it through the harsh winter. Then Crow finds a boulder in the woods that startles him by speaking. The Storytelling Stone tells Crow the great legends of the Seneca--tales of the Long Ago Time, when the Sky Women trod the Above World and a child could alter the ways of a people. Crow comes to realize his own power to effect change and his destiny as a Seneca man. But can the Stone be trusted?

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
In his first work for young adults, Martin, the author of such highly regarded picture books as The Rough-Face Girl and The Shark God, bundles together more than a dozen wonderful tales from the Seneca storytelling tradition. In the frame story, a young boy named Crow, his parents recently dead, lives with his grandmother, who is rumored to be a witch, and is a virtual outcast on the edge of the village. One day while out hunting, he stumbles across a boulder that begins to tell him stories of the Long Ago Time, the great legends of the Seneca people. Among the many stories Crow learns are the tale of how Sky Woman fell to Earth and created Turtle Island, the story of the three brothers who hunt the Great Bear across the sky, and the tale of the trickster figure known as Turkey. Because Crow spends his days listening to stories, he brings back little to eat and his grandmother, suspicious, recruits others to discover what he is doing. They too find themselves captivated by the stone's tales. Eventually Crow is persuaded to dare the anger of the village elders who had him and his grandmother exiled and attempt to convince the chief of the importance of these stories. Martin's simple but dignified prose demonstrates the respect he has for the tales he is retelling, and their authenticity is attested to in an introduction by Peter Jemison, a Seneca Elder. The book also features a series of breathtakingly beautiful illustrations of cut-paper sculptures by Calvin Nicholls. Illus. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2002, Scholastic, 208p,
— Michael Levy
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-Written in the style of a novel, this collection of 14 Seneca tales is presented through the retelling of one central story into which all of the others are artfully woven. Each story has been carefully selected for its pertinence to the main tale, which describes how stories from the "Long-Ago Time" were passed on to the Seneca people. After his father's failure to return from a winter hunting trip and his mother and sister die from fever, Crow moves with his grandmother to an old lodge at the edge of the forest to escape from the villagers who consider them to be unlucky. Out hunting for birds one day, Crow comes upon a large Stone that speaks to him, exchanging, for small gifts, stories of the formation of constellations, the creation of the Earth and its people, and the importance of showing kindness and respect to others. The stories show that life's experiences include both pain and happiness; they teach the importance of patience and of learning from others. In the end, the people of the village learn from Grandfather Stone how to listen to stories and how to respond to the teller. Young Crow is acknowledged as the world's first storyteller and becomes a respected member of the community. Martin offers sources for the tales along with an introductory note by Seneca Elder Peter Jemison. Each chapter includes a painstakingly detailed white paper sculpture of a character (often an animal) from one of the stories.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Crow is a Seneca boy who lives with his grandmother apart from their village, having been ostracized from the community and blamed for tragedies the year before. It is Crow's responsibility to hunt and provide for the two of them. On a hunting venture, Crow comes across a boulder that, in exchange for gifts, wants to tell the Long-Ago Time stories. The story of Crow frames the stories of the Storytelling Stone--tales of creation, good and evil, death, and the origins of the world as we know it. The stories entertain, teach the history of the community, and guide the heart and spirit. Martin (The Shark God, 2001, etc.) has the storyteller's gift of lively descriptive prose, energized by strong verbs and rich details of nature and the Seneca way of life. Newcomer Nicholls's remarkable paper sculptures enliven the text with images of crows, bears, loons, buffalo, and moccasins. The Author's Note sets the stories in their historical context, relating the importance of the Seneca as one of the founding nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and seeing the work as part of a debt owed the Seneca people. An introduction by Seneca Elder Peter Jemison sets the stage for Martin's storytelling in the tradition that's gone before. This is handsome and important, belonging in most collections, but especially for anyone who likes to imagine sitting by a fire hearing a well-told story. (Fiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590379809
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2005
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,497,047
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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