Books by Gerald Hausman

HORSES OF MYTH by Gerald Hausman
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Husband-and-wife storytellers team up to present five short stories of mythical horses from storytelling traditions around the world: An Arabian horse tale from the 14th century; the story of Snail, a mustang race horse from the American west; Humpy, a magical Mongolian pony; Timor, Paul Gauguin's ghost horse; and Kourkig, an Armenian Karabair. The stories are well researched, with notes on their sources, but not well told. The authors' inconsistent efforts to match the voice of each story with its origin results in sentences that sound like bad parodies: "Okey-dokey, Doc, you hold Snail's halter, but you better let go kind of quicklike when I git to that big fallen tree over yonder"—and all of the stories are too long. They seem to be primarily stories of people who rode horses, rather than stories about the horses themselves; the horses stay on the outside, not the center. Uneven, but passable. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
CASTAWAYS by Gerald Hausman
Released: June 1, 2003

Action takes a back seat to psychodrama in these six original sea tales. Hausman embroiders old yarns and historical incidents into studies of how being a sole survivor of disaster, or alone on a long journey, can affect both mind and spirit. Two castaways populate the shadowy jungles around them with imaginary, semi-human beasts; another takes up residence on a lonely outcropping in the Scilly Isles near the place where her husband and child drowned; a know-it-all young man modeled on real-life sailor Joshua Slocum returns much changed from a solo voyage around the world; a Caribbean fisherman escapes drowning so often that he becomes known as "The Man Who Would Not Go Bottom." Though there are some remarkable exploits here, they seem remote—seldom more than set-ups for the author's explorations of his characters' inner landscapes. Readers hoping for the chills of Duppy Talk (1999) or the high adventure of Hausman's "Tom Cringle" stories will be disappointed, but those with a taste for introspective writing may be willing to give this a try. (source notes) (Short stories. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

"Even the most ardent equestrian will have a hard time slogging through this trite collection. (24 b&w illustrations)"
From the authors of several animal anthologies (Cats of Myth, 2000, etc.), a feeble ode to equines. Hoping to get at the heart of the "secret sharers of our soul," the Hausmans collect legends and lore from around the world that contemplate the relationship between humans and horses. Some of the tales are engaging ("The Horse of Antar" pays spirited tribute to an Arabian), and some of the anecdotes are interesting (Jimmy Stewart rode the same horse in every Western), but the prose is poor and filled with stereotypes. The Arabian horse is hot-blooded like "her master"; the vaquero's blood "held centuries of wisdom"; and an American mustang, Comanche, "presents an ancient paradigm—one that is as old as the sharpened point of steel." So . . . about 200 years old? While the volume is billed as folklore, the authors clearly aren't folklorists; among other mistakes, they erroneously conflate a Greek and a Navajo myth simply because both contain a horse motif. They do better when they focus on an individual animal or specific tale, such as the Thoroughbred, with a mouth so soft she could unscrew the lightbulb above her stall and drop it into her water bucket. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

The most famous survivor of her time, Mary Bryant holds the record for the longest open-boat voyage by a woman. In her day, only Captain Bligh bested her, but he was an experienced navigator. In 1786, 19-year-old Mary—poor and close to starving—made a conscious decision to look hunger in the face and become a highway woman in order to survive. She and her accomplices, Catherine Fryer and Mary Haydon, took to the woodlands and became thieves. Caught early on, Mary was sentenced to hang, but was instead put on a prison ship and sent to help colonize New Holland, now called Australia. Whether this was the better fate was not obvious to the prisoners on this ship that was "full of rats and holes and will sooner sink than sail." Forced labor in Botany Bay Colony, in the shadow of the gallows erected on the knoll, was a horrible existence, and Mary, her new husband, their two children, and seven other convicts stole a boat and fled 3,000 miles across the ocean. James Boswell defended Mary in court, and her story is well documented in interviews, journals, and histories of the day. The Hausmans write in a lively, inspirational tone, consciously portraying Mary as a hero for modern times. The inelegantly written authors' note detracts from an otherwise solid story. This will appeal to fans of true adventure tales. (epilogue) (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
TOM CRINGLE by Gerald Hausman
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Inspired by two early-19th-century tales, Hausman delivers more nonstop nautical adventure in the wake of Tom Cringle: Battle on the High Seas (2000). Tom, 14, already First Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, rescues a group of "stolen" slaves, and is then ordered to return them to their owner. Off Jamaica's coast as well as deep within its lush interior, Tom wrestles a succession of large, dangerous animals, plus his own conscience, as, aided by his charges as well as trusty companions Sneezer, a huge Newfoundland, and Peter Mangrove, peg-legged former slave of Lord Nelson, he repels repeated attacks from a gang of bloodthirsty American pirates bent on recovering their human loot. Hill's small, crudely drawn ink sketches aptly illustrate Tom's on-the-fly journal entries. Colorful characters (not one but two of whom spring back onstage after supposedly dying the first time around), plenty of brisk action, a vividly rendered tropical setting, and a capable but clumsy protagonist whose insecurities vanish in the crunch, once again make a winning combination, and it is clear at the end that Tom's exploits are far from over. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE JACOB LADDER by Gerald Hausman
Released: April 1, 2001

A fictionalized version of Hinds's childhood, he and Hausman have written a prose poem of a book that tells the story of a poor Jamaican boy who has to grow up real fast when his father suddenly abandons the family. Though he's only 12, protagonist Tall T is the dependable one in a family of six children, the one Iya, his mother, counts on, the one "who's expected to do more than anyone else." The story is simple—after his father's desertion, Tall T labors to continue learning, studying at the library because the school won't let a boy with such shabby clothing attend, and working at whatever odd jobs he can find to help put food on the table. In the course of the novel he struggles to come to terms with his ambivalent feelings about his father, a "rough, rough man" who has become a stranger to the family, "a stranger whom we have known all of our lives." Still, Tall T is proud when his father singles him out, offering him the honor of participating as the "devil's treasurer," the person responsible for gathering the coins the townsfolk throw at the dancers during the annual Jonkonnu ceremony. The language from the distinctive Jamaican dialect—"me no thief you," to the vivid descriptions, "He's fringed and fabulous . . . ablaze with tiny round mirrors, winking in the sun," is textured and luxuriant. Pulsating with exotic color, the story Hausman and Hinds have created is vibrant and heart-warming. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2000

As a companion to Dogs of Myth (1999), illustrated by Barry Moser, the Hausmans offer nine (naturally) tales of puissant pussies, each depicted in luminous watercolors by a premier illustrator of cats. Divided by type—Creation, Trickster, Goddess, Monster, etc.—the stories come from a variety of cultures. They are freely retold with a fine sense of humor and an often clever turn of phrase. Until, troll-turned-kitty, Sweet Butter tricks him into abdicating, the troll king "Rumble Grumble was bad news." Or in a Japanese tale: a canny old temple cat overcomes a "ninja rat." And loosely based on an actual incident, an invading army bloodlessly captures the city of Tisseh (Pelusium) by marching up to the gates holding cats rather than swords. The authors add discussions of themes and breeds to each tale, and close the collection with source notes. Except for the all-devouring Whittle Cat, the felines here are beneficent, if self-interested, so readers who feel that cats have gotten a bad rap in folklore will purr over this engaging gathering. (Folktales. 7-10)Read full book review >
TOM CRINGLE by Gerald Hausman
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

A 13-year-old British midshipman logs seven months of rip-roaring nautical adventure, experiencing hurricane, shipwreck, fever, earthquake, kidnapping, sea fights, and plenty more. Pleased to find himself aboard the sloop Bream, with its "beams imbued with mackerel-stink; and a rottenness that comes of boiled rags mixed with the sweet fetor of things decomposing out of sight," Tom ships out with an array of disreputable shipmates, including Peter Mangrove, one-legged former slave of Lord Nelson. Their goal is to protect Caribbean-merchant shipping from piratical Americans and other unsavory sorts. Thanks to sharp eyes and a knack for survival, Tom quickly rises to Lieutenant—despite at one point being caught between loyalty to the Crown and his attraction to the magnificent pirate Obediah, an Afro-Portuguese native of Glasgow. Hausman (Doctor Bird, 1998, etc.) bases his tale on two historical novels of the 1830s, one of which may have inspired the young Robert Louis Stevenson. Like Geraldine McCaughrean's Pirate's Son (1998), this grand mix of pulse-pounding action, vivid language, exotic locales, and colorful characters fits firmly in the tradition of Treasure Island. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1999

Man's best friend is at the heart of 13 curious tales culled from worldwide traditions, crossing oceans and time. From Africa to Arabia, China to Japan, the stories span a range in both tone and subject matter. While many of the stories appeared in the Hausmans' The Mythology of Dogs (1997), those regathered here are the archetypal and mythological, the fanciful and magical, including ghost dogs, immortals, and canine heroes who speak and sing, marry princesses, transform, catch flying bullets in their teeth, and recover magic rings. A two-inch-tall faery dog shines in "King Herla's Hound," while the mighty Thor's companion reveals why the watchdog Rottweiler's fierce growl sounds like thunder in the throat in the pourquoi tale "Thunder Mouth Dog." The Hausmans are well-grounded in both folkloric elements and storytelling sensibility, arranging their tales in short chapters such as "Trickster Dogs," "Enchanted Dogs," and "Guardian Dogs"; they punctuate each with an explanatory, if complex, punchline of sorts. Moser's characteristically striking design portrays the akita and basenji, spaniel and shar-pei as if the dogs posed for portrait sittings. Singular compositions focus on each dog as individual, without ornament or fanfare, as if in sculptural relief, carved against the surrounding vast plane of the page. (notes, sources) (Folklore. 8-14) Read full book review >
DOCTOR BIRD by Gerald Hausman
Released: May 18, 1998

Doctor Bird, hummingbird trickster and national bird of Jamaica, stars in a trio of parables adapted by Hausman. In the first tale, Doctor Bird tries to teach Mongoose that she shouldn't steal. He unleashes a series of warnings from his magical bag until Mongoose gets the hint, but she goes back to her thieving ways as soon as Doctor Bird departs. In the second, Doctor Bird encourages Mouse to shuck his instincts to see the possibilities, to look up instead of down, and Mouse stumbles upon a variety of unexpected ways to survive. Lastly, Doctor Bird advises Owl to be an owl, and not what he is not. When Owl, disenchanted with his lot, goes after bright lights and teeming fellowship, it backfires and he comes to appreciate his nocturnal life. The tellings are surprisingly wooden, without the lilt associated with island tales, and fairly open-ended for the target audience. Wolff's illustrations are flashy and funny, hinting at the Jamaican setting without fully invoking it. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

To this season of the dog book, add this sprightly celebration of canine anecdotes. Wishing to get to the heart of what makes a dog a dog, the Hausmans, both mythologists, poured over sacred oral narratives, conjectures as to our prehistorical relationships with various mutts, and contemporary dog stories. What they deliver here is a compendium of these findings, laid out alphabetically by breed: 50 backgrounds of purebreds, 40 additional dog tales, drawn from global sources, explicating and dramatizing our fascination with Bowser (they also provide what appear to be American Kennel Club specs on established purebreds). Dog lovers will doubtless be captivated, but so too will the casual browser of this collection of arcana and mythological baggage, savoring the odd tidbits: the quirky Airedale hailing a cab, the pit bull's ability to sniff out ``evil intent from the slack manner of any man,'' how the African basenji lost its bark, and why one should never try to displace a coonhound from the porch swing. Other tales relate how the whistled tune of a stranger turned the bulldog from a bully to an upstanding citizen, why the springer spaniel bit the pope's toe and thus ushered in the Church of England, and the curious tale of the weimaraner that liked to talk on the phone. And what is one to make of the story that the urinating ghost of a dingo created the Magellanic Clouds? Well, probably little other than to marvel at the sheer inventiveness of it all, for one of the great pleasures of this book is to see the art of myth-making laid as bare as possible. Good stuff entertainingly told, and a gold mine for dog fanciers. (35 photos, 35 illustrations) Read full book review >
NIGHT FLIGHT by Gerald Hausman
Released: April 16, 1996

A deeply disturbing novel, based on an incident from the author's childhood. The 12-year-old narrator, Jeff Hausman, has a recurring nightmare during the summer of 1957: He watches his best friend, Max Maeder, fire his .22 into a burlap sack of rats; Jeff, burying the sack, finds kittens inside it. This horrible incident is not a nightmare but a memory of an actual event, and unfolds around the main plot: The neighborhood dogs are being poisoned, and Max asserts that ``Jews'' must be responsible, without knowing that Jeff is half-Jewish. When the friends are punished for victimizing some Jewish neighbors, Max, now aware of Jeff's heritage, threatens vengeance. Jeff saves Max from drowning, in a tidy ending that intimates that Max and his crypto-Nazi father will abandon their prejudices in gratitude. A welter of half-developed themes overwhelms the book's considerable literary merit. Hausman (Doctor Moledinky's Castle, 1995, etc.) provides evocative, convincing descriptions of the outdoors and makes elements of the plot and setting resonate as symbols, but the book is more a series of intensely dramatic set pieces than a seamless whole, and often implausible. The age of the protagonist and the length of the book mark it for middle- schoolers, but the brutality of much of the subject matter and the many ambiguities, intentional or not, demand an older readership. (Fiction. 14+) Read full book review >
EAGLE BOY by Gerald Hausman
adapted by Gerald Hausman, illustrated by Barry Moser
Released: Feb. 29, 1996

A wonderful and unique Navajo legend from the trio behind Turtle Island ABC (1994, not reviewed) about the first boy to learn the ways of the eagles. Two birds feed him magic cornmeal, wrap him up into different shades of light, and whisk him up to the house of the Eagle Chief above the clouds. After a series of peculiar, slightly mystical adventures—in the course of which he turns into a coyote and back again—he comes back down to his parents. The tale gains distinction by relying not on suspense, but on unexpected transformations. The pictures—in the softest pastels- -take on the colors of the sky: peach and orange tones on the bottom, white in the middle, blues on top. The few figures—a boy here, an eagle there—are rather sentimental, although their infrequent use contributes to the mood and setting. Most of the pages, filled with big cloudy expanses, serve as background for the text. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

The magic of a summer in a small town, circa 1957. In related stories, Andy tells about the odd characters and events that fill his 12th summer in Berkeley Bend, including an imaginary elephant, a beautiful girl with a taste for blood, an old woman who can sometimes tell the future, a boy who communicates with animals, the millionaire, Dr. Moledinky, and many others. The second story, ``Old Ben, Pam Snow, and the Blood of Summer,'' is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's ``Dandelion Wine,'' but with a sharper edge. In it, Hausman (Duppy Talk, 1994, not reviewed) beguiles readers with his tough-minded inventiveness and edgy wit, and entrances them with sheer artistry. A wondrous collection woven of comedy, gritty drama, and pungent imagination, stitched together with lyrical language that yields passages to be reread and shared. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
WILDERNESS by Gerald Hausman
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

Native American expert Hausman and science-fiction maestro Zelazny team up to deliver a heart-pounding pair of interlocking yarns—fictionalized tributes to the fortitude, skill, and luck of two early mountain men, John Colter and Hugh Glass. Colter, trapped by a horde of Blackfoot braves in the Yellowstone region in 1808, is challenged by them to a footrace to the death; Glass, severely mauled by a bear in 1823 while hunting, is left for dead by his sidekick Jamie after a prolonged death- watch proves inconclusive. Thus the adventures begin, with Colter fleeing with no shoes from the Blackfeet while Glass comes to his senses and begins to crawl, on a broken leg and battered body, to civilization a hundred miles away. Colter evades recapture by feigning insanity, then plunges into a river logjam, where he sucks air from a knothole until searching Indians upset the balance of the jam, after which he escapes unseen into a tree. Glass proceeds inch by painful inch, starving and thirsting as he scrapes over barren terrain, always willing himself forward. Colter hides in a beaver lodge, then lures his pursuers into the nightmarish world of Yellowstone's thermal pools and vents that he knows well. He dodges arrows and deals with survivors of those foolhardy enough to enter his domain, then takes a last giant leap to freedom. Glass, meanwhile, regains the use of his leg and with the aid of a homemade crutch hobbles to safety, only to return swiftly to the mountains in search of the comrade who deserted him. Manly, masterly feats described in a breathless manner certain to appeal to hunters, trappers, and would-be adventurers in the wild—but mindlessly tedious for everyone else. Read full book review >