An anecdotal and highly enjoyable visit with a local folk legend.

In this debut guide, a longtime swamp master explores nature, life, and himself.

The author spent years living in the Great Okefenokee Swamp, an enormous 430,000-acre, black-water kingdom in southeastern Georgia, where he felt at home among the region’s bears, alligators, whitetail deer, and innumerable snakes. It was in the Okefenokee that he learned the ways of these and other animals and gradually became “swampwise,” attuned to the rhythms of nature and wary of the allurements of modern society and technology. This book attempts to distill the lessons of that life. Okefenokee Joe accomplishes this mainly through his empathy with the other species with whom he shared so much time and so many memories. “If the plants and creatures of the natural world could speak, each and every one of them would ask of the human race the same thing!” he writes. “Stop the waste, the destruction, and the pollution all across the earth!” The author intersperses his observations about that untamed realm with intriguing bits of his own autobiography, including his experiences working in the Okefenokee Swamp Park and his eventual decision to strike out on his own in his new persona. He traveled all over the Southeast, as he puts it, “sharing my message of our responsibility to, and the understanding of, the natural world around us,” which deserves “our utmost respect, deep love, and genuine appreciation!” And although such high aims are admirable, the book’s most memorable stretches involve the author’s anecdotes about his experiences working with the wild animals of the Okefenokee. He came to be an informal field expert on the behavior of black bears and the nature of snakes (poisonous and otherwise), among other subjects. His understanding of all these creatures was instrumental in forming what he refers to as “The Golden Rule of Nature”: “If You Don’t Need It, Leave It!”—a decree he watched all the animals just instinctively obey. The effect of these stories is the warm feeling of hearing a gifted raconteur’s best bits.

An anecdotal and highly enjoyable visit with a local folk legend.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9973371-0-5

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Okefenokee Joe Enterprises

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955