Wood, Nancy C. 1936-
Wood, Nancy C. 1936-
Born June 20, 1936, in Trenton, NJ; daughter of Harold William (a businessman) and Eleanor Clopp; married Myron Gilmore Wood (a photographer), May 1, 1961 (divorced); children: Karen Alison, Christopher Keith, Eleanor Kathryn, India Hart. Education: Attended Bucknell University, 1955-56; attended University of Colorado Extension, 1958-59. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Congregational. Hobbies and other interests:
Writer and photographer.
National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, 1993, for Spirit Walker; American Bookseller Pick of the Lists designation, 1995, for Dancing Moons; Booklist Youth Editors Choice designation, and Mountain and Plains Booksellers' Association Best Nonfiction Book of the Year designation, both 1997, both for The Serpent's Tongue.
Little Wrangler, photographs by Myron Wood, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1966.
Hollering Sun, photographs by Myron Wood, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1972.
Many Winters: Prose and Poetry of the Pueblos, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1974.
Spirit Walker, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.
Dancing Moons, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.
The Girl Who Loved Coyotes: Stories of the Southwest, illustrated by Diana Bryer, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Shaman's Circle (poetry), illustrated by Frank Howell, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) The Serpent's Tongue: Prose, Poetry, and Art of the New Mexico Pueblos, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Sacred Fire: Poetry and Prose, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.
Thunderwoman: A Mythic Novel of the Pueblos, illustrated by Richard Erdoes, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
Old Coyote, illustrated by Max Grafe, 2004.
How the Tiny People Grew Tall: An Original Creation Tale, illustated by Rebecca Walsh, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.
Central City: A Ballad of the West, photographs by Myron Wood, Chaparral Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 1963.
West to Durango, photographs by Myron Wood, Chaparral Press, 1963.
Colorado: Big Mountain Country, photographs by Myron Wood, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1969.
Clearcut: The Deforestation of America, photographs by Myron Wood, Sierra Club, 1971.
The Last Five-Dollar Baby, photographs by Myron Wood, Harper (New York, NY), 1972.
(With Roy E. Stryker) In This Proud Land: America, 1935-1943, New York Graphic Society (New York, NY), 1973.
The Man Who Gave Thunder to the Earth: A Taos Way of Seeing and Understanding, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1976.
The King of Liberty Bend, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1976.
(And photographer) The Grass Roots People: An American Requiem, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1978.
War Cry on a Prayer Feather: Prose and Poetry of the Ute Indians, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.
(And photographer) When Buffalo Free the Mountains: The Survival of America's Ute Indians, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980.
Taos Pueblo, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.
Eye of the West, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2007.
Nancy C. Wood, an award-winning poet, novelist, and photographer, has devoted her writing career to sharing the culture and spirituality of the native people of the American southwest with readers young and old. Working with the late artist Frank Howell, she produced the picture books Spirit Walker, Dancing Moons, Many Winters: Prose and Poetry of the Pueblos, and Shaman's Circle, each of which combines Wood's poetry with Howell's stylized, ethereal paintings. Other picture books, such as Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen and How the Tiny People Grew Tall: An Original Creation Tale retell traditional tales, while the young-adult novel Thunderwoman: A Mythic Novel of the Pueblos fictionalizes a Pueblo creation myth. In addition to original stories, Wood has edited anthologies, many of which feature photographs by her former husband, Myron Wood. Wood makes her home near the New Mexico wilderness, an area that inspires much of her work.
Shaman's Circle and Sacred Fire: Poetry and Prose are characteristic of the collaborations between Wood and Howell; they are also the final two volumes produced prior to Howell's untimely death in 1997. In Shaman's Circle Wood celebrates the important transitional moments in life, such as birth, death, and marriage, as well as the people that make such moments significant. Using the changing seasons and other cycles from life to illustrate such transitions, Wood focuses on the many positives in change, even in death. Howell's "mystical portraits of Native Americans combine the timeless, mythic, and universal," according to School Library Journal contributor Patricia Lothrop Green, the critic noting that "Wood's words are rooted in Taos Pueblo." The lost way of life of the Pueblo Indians is the focus of Sacred Fire, as Wood leads readers back through history, to the Pueblos' life prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in the mid-1500s. "As much lamentation as celebration," Sacred Fire is "haunting in its evocation of the past and of memories that indict the poverty of the present," Michael Cart noted in Booklist.
Wood works illustrator Max Grafe to tell a poignant story about the end of life in Old Coyote. In the book she follows an aged coyote who makes his final tour of his territory with a slow, limping stride. During his tour, he recalls the days of his youth, when he was a strong and effective predator: naps in the shade of his favorite cactus, howling at the full moon, watching the antics of his young pups, vast desert sunsets, and cool desert nights curled up in the warmth of his den all come to mind. Ultimately, Old Coyote comes to his destination, and lays down for his final nap, becoming transformed into part of the starry sky in sleep. "Wood's sensitive narrative serves as a gentle introduction to a potentially difficult subject," Terry Glover wrote in Booklist, the critic adding that Grafe's "earth-toned" images "beautifully capture the essence" of Wood's poignant tale. In School Library Journal Roxanne Burg described Old Coyote as "a comforting tale," and a Kirkus Reviews critic noted that, in portraying "death as transformation rather than loss," Wood's story "may provide some comfort" to children grappling with the concept of death.
Described as an "offbeat, original creation tale" by Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson, Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen finds God and His wife busy in the kitchen at a time before life began. After baking Earth and Sun in the oven, they turn their attention to more minute matters: namely, the many creatures that will walk the surface of their newly formed planets, Man among them. The couple engage in some good-spirited sniping while they work, Mattson describing Wood's dialogue-filled story as "more The Honeymooners than Genesis, more trial-by-error than intelligent design." Praising Ering's artwork as "soft and dynamic," School Library Journal contributor Marie Orlando added that Wood's "playful twist on a familiar theme" benefits from her "clever text." A Kirkus Reviews writer deemed Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen a "lighthearted way to get young readers thinking about creation," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed it a "lively picture book."
In her young-adult novel Thunderwoman, Wood transports readers back to the creation days, as husband and wife Kobili and Thunderwoman work on giving the world and its creatures life. Unfortunately, disagreements caused the couple to disband, each going their separate way. When the Spanish conquistadores arrive 10,000 years later, and prepare to conquer the New World with their guns, horses, and the Catholic faith, Kobili returns to his beloved Earth, hoping to help avert the ill fate that has been predicted for the Pueblos should armored men on horseback ever arrive in their lands. Taking the human form of a wise man, Kobili is aided in his task by Thunderwoman, now reincarnated as Sayah, a chief's daughter. As Sally Estes noted in her Booklist review, Wood continues her story beyond the days of the Conquistadores, "not only tracing the senseless horrors faced by the Pueblo Indians but also sketching the fates of Indian peoples of the entire hemisphere, from the Aztecs to the Inuits," ending with the atomic testing that occurred at Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1947. Noting that the novel will be appreciated by adult as well as teen readers, Estes concluded that "no thinking reader will come away unshaken, unmoved, untouched."
Collecting the works of writers, scholars, and artists such as Willa Cather, Simon J. Ortiz, Tony Hillerman, Paula Gunn Allen, and others, Wood's edited anthology The Serpent's Tongue: Prose, Poetry, and Art of the New Mexico Pueblos features over one hundred works of prose, poetry, narrative history, and autobiography, as well as over seventy illustrations that include photographs and original works of art. In School Library Journal Ann Welton wrote that the retellings of Native tales that are included in Wood's collection "especially lend themselves well to oral presentation," while the book's "extensive bibliography and notes … make this is an indispensable resource" for students of Pueblo and Native American history and culture. "Wood's respect for and appreciation of the Pueblo people and culture are very evident," observed Booklist critic Sally Estes, "as is her dedicated research, in this bountiful compilation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1995, Julie Yates Walton, review of The Girl Who Loved Coyotes: Stories of the Southwest, p. 167; December 1, 1997, Sally Estes, review of The Serpent's Tongue: Prose, Poetry, and Art of New Mexico, p. 619; August, 1998, Michael Cart, review of Sacred Fire, p. 2001; February 15, 1999, Sally Estes, review of Thunderwoman: A Mythic Novel of the Pueblos, p. 1064; December 1, 2004, Terry Glover, review of Old Coyote, p. 664; November 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of How the Tiny People Grew Tall: An Original Creation Tale, p. 54; April 15, 2006, Jennifer Mattson, review of Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, p. 46.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1999, review of Thunderwoman, p. 333; May, 2006, Karen Coats, review of Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, p. 429.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of Old Coyote, p. 695; November 1, 2005, review of How the Tiny People Grew Tall, p. 1189; February 1, 2006, review of Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, p. 139.
Publishers Weekly, November 30, 1992, review of Many Winters, p. 57; October 25, 1993, review of Spirit Walker, p. 62; October 13, 1997, review of The Serpent's Tongue, p. 76; October 5, 1998, review of Sacred Fire, p. 92; January 30, 2006, review of Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, p. 73.
School Library Journal, January, 1994, Carolyn Polese, review of Spirit Walker, p. 142; November, 1995, Kathleen Whalin, review of Dancing Moons, p. 132; December, 1995, Ruth Semrau, review of The Girl Who Loved Coyotes, p. 127; November, 1996, Patrica Lathrop Green, review of Shaman's Circle; December, 1997, Ann Welton, review of The Serpent's Tongue, p. 150; May, 1999, Mary B. McCarthy, review of Thunderwoman, p. 131; October, 2004, Roxanne Burg, review of Old Coyote, p. 137; January, 2006, Suzanne Myers Harold, review of How the Tiny People Grew Tall, p. 115; June, 2006, Marie Orlando, review of Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, p. 130.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1981, review of When Buffalo Free the Mountains, p. 44; April, 1996, review of Dancing Moons, p. 63; June, 1998, review of The Serpent's Tongue, p. 150; June, 1999, review of Thunderwoman, p. 127.