Title & Author: Moccasin thunder: American Indian stories for today edited by Lori Marie Carlson
Summary: This collection of ten short stories run the gamut of humor, relationships, tradition, coming-of-age, and Indian stereotypes of substance abuse and family issues, etc.
Reference: Carlson, L. M. (Ed.) (2005). KMoccasin thunder: American Indian stories for today. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
My Impressions: Many of the authors of these short stories are ones that I used as a literature teacher (Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Joseph Bruchac), and had great success in helping non-Native students understand contemporary issues of Native America. This short compilation is a handy place for teens to learn more about contemporary Native Americans.
Professional Review: “What a wonderful time to be an American Indian!” begins the introduction to this collection of ten excellent stories that encompass a diversity of experience. There’s humor in Cynthia Leitich Smith’s “A Real-Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate” and Joseph Bruchac’s “Ice” (in which desperate officials turn to Chief Thomas Fox to do something about the lack of ice on Lake George, a week before the profitable Winter Carnival). And there’s friendship-in-dire-circumstances in Joy Harjo’s “How to Get to the Planet Venus” and Greg Sarris’s “The Magic Pony.” Some of these stories have been previously published, but Carlson has brought together selections that stand apart as wonderful stories, and together as an introduction to contemporary American-Indian literature and experience. (A quibble: For a collection intended to deconstruct stereotypes, why put at its front two stories with both alcoholism and dysfunctional families as major themes? The issues would have stood out less if placed later in the collection.) Carlson addresses her outsider perspective in a note, and it is to the non-Native mainstream that this collection seems pitched. As such, it will make for engaging and dynamic use in the English or Social Studies classroom—as well as for rich individual reading. (editor’s note, introduction, author bios) (Fiction. 12+)
Reference: Moccasin thunder: American Indian stories for today. (2005, Sept. 15). [Review of the book Moccasin thunder: American Indian stories for today edited by Lori Marie Carlson]. KIrkus Reviews, Sept. 15, 2005. Retrieved from http://kirkusreviews.com
Library Uses: For any library’s teen or writing group participating in NaNoWriMo, this collection of short stories would make for good read-alouds to inspire and instruct writers on how to use dialogue, tone, and humor in their stories.