When the Chenoo Howls: Native American Tales of Terror

Summary: This collection of 12 horror stories revolve around Native American legends and monsters. Each story has good triumph over evil, as traditional tales in Native American culture tells. At the end of each story, there is a small note that helps explain the story and its inspiration.

Cultural Markers: Authors Joseph and James Bruchacs have written many books based on Native American traditions. Most of these stories are about monsters that need to be overcome or beaten in the classic “good vs. evil” sense, but there are a few tales that serve as warnings to younger children, like the “Ugly Face,” which comes after disobedient children. This book is full of Native American tales backed by not only experienced authors, but at the end of each story, there are notes and sources to further validate the proper use of the culture in the book. In the table of contents, the names of the chapters are the monsters for the story and in parenthesis next to the chapter name, it tells us the tribe that this monster originates from.  For example, the fourth chapter in the book is Chenoo, and in parenthesis next to it, we have the Passamaquoddy, the tribe the Chenoo is from. The stories are written for a more modern era, but still keeps its ties to the past and the traditions of the Native American tribes described in the book. Throughout the book there are black and white illustrations work with the overall theme of “scary stories.”

Personal Reflection: This book is targeted for young adults, but I think it can work in a middle or high school library. Due to some of the stories elements, I don’t think it should be in an elementary school library. I know students are fans of these horror stories type of books, and the fact that it is based on Native American tradition, just gives it a bonus reason to be in any middle or high school library.

Review Excerpts:

From School Library Journal: “An interesting alternative for children who love horror stories.”

From Booklist: “A worthy addition to Native American folklore collections, this is also suitably frightening for fans of Schwartz’s scary stories and San Souci’s Short and Shivery collections.”

Similar Books: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/137776.When_the_Chenoo_Howls

Lesson Plans: This book would be perfect as a warm-up. The students love the genre. Telling one story a day would put the students in the right mood for a day in Reading. This book could also be used during a unit on myths.

Bruchac, J., Bruchac, J., & Bock, W. S. (1998). When the Chenoo howls: Native American tales of terror. New York: Walker and. ISBN 0802775764

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