Young Adults Books

DAWN LAND by Joseph Bruchac. Fulcrum Publishing, 350 Indiana St., Suite 350, Golden, CO 80401, (800) 992-2908, (303) 279-7111. Map. 317 pp., $19.95 cloth. 1-55591-134-X

Bruchac, an Abenaki storyteller, poet, and now novelist, has penned a dynamic mixture of fact and fiction that instills a belief that holding onto the past facilitates success in the future. Young Hunter, an Abenaki (the name means "People of the Dawn Land") who lives 10,000 years in the past, is sent on a journey through what are now the Adirondack Mountains to save his tribe from beings called the "Ancient Ones," a race of grey-skinned giants with cold hearts and a great hunger. He carries in his memory all of the legends of his tribe, as well as their history, in case they are wiped out in his absence. Accompanying him are three dogs.

As the hero travels toward his goal, there are many asides which could be separate stories. There is always another adventure just over the next horizon, and Bruchac keeps the tempo at a high pitch. This lyrical circle of legends and natural history is a strong beginning for this talented storyteller. Highly recommended. Reviewed by: Steve Brock

Another Look: With this work, Bruchac takes a giant leap into the much more ambitious realm of the novel. "Dawn Land" is a novel of the Abenaki tribe set 10,000 years ago. On one level this is a retelling of a classic mythological culture hero story. It tells the story of Young Hunter, who is called upon to defend his people against a quite horrible menace. But this book is more than just this story. Woven throughout the narrative is the world view of the Abenaki and their relation with the Earth. One comes away from this book with a far greater understanding of what that relationship is.

As a storyteller, Bruchac is supreme. Looking at the popular books on sale at the supermarket these days, it is evident that stories of ancient America are somehow "in" these days. I suppose there is even some superficial resemblance to "Clan of the Cave Bear". But none of these attempts comes close to what Bruchac has accomplished with this book. I recommend it most highly to anyone who appreciates the art of a master storyteller. Reviewed by Richard Darsie

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Monday, March 11, 1996 - 11:37:17 AM