Totem Tale

 

Vanasse’s enchanting text and Erik Brooks’ lively illustrations make this a memorable modern folktale.

 

On a full-moon night in Alaska, a traditional native totem pole magically comes to life. The Grizzly, Beaver, Frog, and Raven all stretch and scratch and voice their relief at being free at last. But then the first dawn light appears on the horizon, and the totems have to reassemble themselves in the proper order before morning. Who should be on top of whom? Can wise Raven reason with these contentious creatures?

 


 

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INSPIRED BY ALASKA

Author Deb VanasseAt age twenty-one, Deb Vanasse was dropped by a bush pilot on a gravel runway in middle of the Alaska wilderness. No roads, no houses, no cars, no people—only a winding brown slough and tundra spread flat as prairie. She had come not for adventure but to live, an isolating but evocative experience that has inspired much of her work, including her books about writing.


Between her mountain home and a glacier-based cabin, she continues to enjoy Alaska’s wild places.

Don’t tell…but Vanasse was raised in a mental institute.

Author Deb Vanassee at Denali

Author Deb Vanassee at Denali

Her family lived on the grounds of the state mental institution where her dad worked. The staff consisted mostly of foreign doctors, so she grew up with children from around the world, always in the shadow of the sprawling hospital and patients who walked the grounds, each more or less in his own little world. Deb lived in her own little world much of the time too. Her favorite hangout was a shed attached to her family’s barracks-style cement block house, where she’d spend hours reading and imagining story worlds.

The Confessional

We asked & our authors answered…


Deb has been known to…buy way more books than she’ll ever read

Things Deb likes…chocolate, good books, an occasional movie, a good hot shower after a few days of camping, warm flannel sheets, wide open spaces, soft falling snow, her friends

She’ll never get caught…skydiving; she so doesn’t like heights

A favorite/line expression and where it’s from:  “There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

Alaskans she most admires: Peggy Shumaker, Elizabeth Peratrovich, DeeDee Jonrowe

Favorite Alaska places: Matanuska Glacier, Kennicott Mine, the Pribilofs

CONNECT OFF THE PAGE

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Book & Author

Author Deb VanasseVanasse’s engagement with Alaska Native culture began when she taught school in the villages of Nunapitchuk, Tuluksak, and Akiachak as well as in the “hub” community of Bethel. Her son, who was given the “Eskimo” name of Tuluksak elder John M. Alexie, learned Yup’ik at the same time he learned English.


Sneaky Peek

Frog leapt and twirled, kicking the stiffness from long legs tucked up tight for countless years.

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