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THE WORLD BEFORE THIS ONE by Rafe Martin Kirkus Star


by Rafe Martin & illustrated by Calvin Nicholls

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-590-37976-3
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

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+)