Martin, Rafe 1946-
Martin, Rafe 1946-
Born 1946, in New York, NY; married; wife's name Rose; children: Jacob, Ariya. Education: Harpur College, B.A. (English; magna cum laude, with highest honors); University of Toronto, M.A. (English literature). Hobbies and other interests: Reading, drawing, motorcycling.
Home and office—56 Brighton St., Rochester, NY 14607. E-mail—[email protected]
Storyteller and author. Has performed at festivals, conferences, museums, libraries, and other institutions, including National Storytelling Festival, International Reading Association International Convention, PEN American Literary Center, Chautauqua Institute, Sharing the Fire Storytelling Conference, International Storytelling Institute, and Joseph Campbell Foundation Festival of Myth, Folklore, and Story. Also owned and operated a bookstore for ten years.
Lucille Micheels Pannell Award, Women's National Book Association, 1983; Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award, 1984, for The Hungry Tigress; American Library Association (ALA) Notable Children's Book selection, 1985, and American Bookseller's Pick of the Lists, both for Foolish Rabbit's Big Mistake; Notable Children's Book selection, ALA, Horn Book Fanfare title, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year designation, Child Study Association Best Book designation, and Time magazine Twelve Outstanding Works for Children, all 1989, all for Will's Mammoth; USA Today Best Children's Book for Summer Reading designation, 1992, IRA Teacher's Choice, 1993, Georgia Picture Book Award and Golden Sower Award, both 1994, and Virginia State Reading Association Young Readers Award, 1995, all for The Rough Face Girl; Notable Children's Book in Social Studies citation, Children's Book Council/National Council for the Social Studies, 1993, for The Boy Who Lived with the Seals; Parent's Choice Gold Award, 1995, for The Boy Who Loved Mammoths; Storytelling World Anthologies Award, 1996, for One Hand Clapping; Anne Izzard Storyteller's Choice Award, Aesop's Accolade Award, American Folklore Society, and Notable Children's Book selection, American Library Association, all 1996, all for Mysterious Tales of Japan; Bank Street College Children's Book Committee Best Children's Book of the Year designation, 1998, for The Brave Little Parrot; Golden Archer Award, and National Parenting Publications Award Honor designation, both 2001, both for The Shark God; Storytelling World Award honor title, and Booklist Top Ten Youth Romances designation, both 2004, both for The Storytelling Princess; Storytelling World Award, 2004, for The World before This One; Chicago Public Library Best of the Best designation, New England Children's Bookselling Advisory Top-Ten Titles inclusion, and Tribune Media Best Kids Book designation, all 2005, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, 2006, all for Birdwing.
(Reteller) The Hungry Tigress, and Other Traditional Asian Tales, illustrated by Richard Wehrman, Shambhala (Boulder, CO), 1984, revised and expanded edition published as The Hungry Tigress: Buddhist Myths, Legends, and Jataka Tales, Yellow Moon Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
Foolish Rabbit's Big Mistake, illustrated by Ed Young, Putnam (New York, NY), 1985.
Will's Mammoth, illustrated by Stephen Gammell, Putnam (New York, NY), 1989.
The Rough-Face Girl, illustrated by David Shannon, Putnam (New York, NY), 1992.
A Storyteller's Story, photographs by Jill Krementz, R.C. Owen (Katonah, NY), 1992.
The Boy Who Lived with the Seals, illustrated by David Shannon, Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.
Dear as Salt, illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka, Scholastic Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.
The Boy Who Loved Mammoths, illustrated by Richard Wehrman, Yellow Moon Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.
(Adapter and reteller, with Manuela Soares) One Hand Clapping: Zen Stories for All Ages, illustrated by Junko Morimoto, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1995.
Mysterious Tales of Japan, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi, Putnam (New York, NY), 1996.
The Monkey Bridge, illustrated by Fahimeh Amiri, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.
The Eagle's Gift, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.
The Brave Little Parrot, illustrated by Susan Gaber, Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.
The Twelve Months, illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka, Stoddart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
The Language of Birds, illustrated by Susan Gaber, Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
A Girl and the Sea, illustrated by Dave LaFleur, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.
The Shark God, illustrated by David Shannon, Arthur A.
Levine Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Storytelling Princess, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
The World before This One: A Novel Told in Legend, illustrated by Calvin Nicholls, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Birdwing, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Boy Who Loved Mammoths, and Other Tales, Weston Woods (Weston, CT), 1987.
Ghostly Tales of Japan, Yellow Moon Press (Cambridge, MA), 1989.
Animal Dreaming: Encounters in the Natural World, Yellow Moon Press (Cambridge, MA), 1992.
Rafe Martin Tells His Children's Books, Yellow Moon Press (Cambridge, MA), 1994.
(Editor, with Philip Kapleau and Polly Young-Eisendrath) Awakening to Zen: The Teachings of Roshi Philip Kapleau, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.
(Editor, with Philip Kapleau) Straight to the Heart of Zen, Shambhala (Boulder, CO), 2001.
Contributor to anthologies, including Who Says? Essays in Contemporary Storytelling, Between the Lines: A Modern Midrash, Stories for the Spirit, Peace Tales, Best Shorts: Favorite Stories for Sharing, and Read-to-Tell Tales: More Best-Loved Tales from the National Storytelling Festival. Contributor to periodicals, including Parabola, Blind Donkey, Enquiring Mind, Storytelling, Mountain Record, Zen Bow, Museletter, Karuna, Wordwright, Tricycle, Buddhadharma, and The Animals' Voice.
Rafe Martin is an award-winning storyteller and a highly regarded author of books for children and young adults. Martin often reworks traditional stories and myths, as in The Language of Birds, based on a Russian folktale, and The Shark God, inspired by an ancient Hawaiian legend. "Told tales work directly with the audience's ability to respond instantly," Martin noted on his home page. "They thrive on felt emotion—laughter, tears, fear, joy. When written, the pattern of a story and the specific words that build that pattern, take on greater power. Rather than viscerally responding as with the told tale, the reader-listener is led to re-read, to reflect, ponder, and wonder."
Martin published his first story collection, The Hungry Tigress, and Other Traditional Asian Tales, in 1984, later winning the Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award for the fully revised version, published with the subtitle Buddhist Myths, Legends, and Jataka Tales. He received the same honor for Mysterious Tales of Japan, a volume of ten ghostly stories that are "characterized by an eerie beauty," according to Booklist critic Leone McDermott. A Publishers Weekly reviewer also complimented the work, stating that the "wonderfully, eerily told tales" Martin includes in the collection "rely not on terror for impact, but on enigma, subtlety, moral implication and taut storytelling."
Martin's first picture book was Foolish Rabbit's Big Mistake, illustrated by Ed Young. In this book a brave lion shows a foolish rabbit and other animals how to be wise and courageous. In his second book, the almost-wordless picture book Will's Mammoth, Stephen Gammell's illustrations follow a boy as he explores the creative power of his own wishes and dreams, while The Rough-Face Girl is a Native-American version of the Cinderella story. The Brave Little Parrot introduces a little bird that miraculously saves a burning forest. As a School Library Journal contributor noted, Martin's "lyrical retelling" combines with illustrations by Susan Gaber to "bring to life an inspiring tale that will speak to today's readers."
In The Twelve Months, illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka, a sweet-natured orphan named Marushka is saved from peril by twelve men, each man representing one of the twelve months of the calendar year. "This Slavic variant of the Cinderella story will please readers with its good-hearted heroine," noted GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist. Another book by Martin, The Language of Birds, focuses on another kind and thoughtful character, in this case an elderly merchant. Hoping to aid his two sons in proving themselves in the wide world, the merchant gives each of the young men ten gold pieces. The dishonest Vasilii squanders his fortune, then lies about his accomplishments, while younger brother Ivan uses his time to save the life of a baby bird. When Vasilii finds trouble later on, gentle Ivan comes to his rescue. "Martin does an excellent job of creating a text that is both evocative and descriptive," remarked Denise Anton Wright in a review of The Language of Birds for School Library Journal.
Martin presents a dramatic tale in The Shark God, featuring artwork by David Shannon. After a brother and sister free a trapped shark, they declare the good news by pounding on the king's drum, an act that is punishable by death. Their parents' only hope to save the children is an appeal to the Shark God. "Martin's suitably myth-like prose gives the story appropriate grandeur," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, and a critic in Kirkus Reviews stated that "there's enough joy, terror, and drama here to captivate any reader or listener."
A spirited princess and a bookish prince protest their arranged marriage in The Storytelling Princess, another colorfully told tale by Martin. After surviving a shipwreck and washing ashore in a strange land, the beautiful princess of the title learns that the local prince will only marry a clever storyteller. "Martin's story-within-a-story device works like an old campfire tale," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor, "and even though readers may guess the ending, they'll want to see how the royals get there."
A young Native-American boy seeks wisdom from an enchanted stone in The World before This One: A Novel Told in Legend, which collects fourteen Seneca tales. "The story of Crow and the talking stone, itself a Seneca legend, serves as a framework for these stories and myths," noted Paula Rohrlick in Kliatt. "Martin retells the ancient tales in language that is both spare and exciting," Booklist reviewer Gillian Engberg also noted of the collection. Martin moves from North America to Europe to create an original and highly acclaimed novel inspired by the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale, "The Six Swans." In that novel, titled Birdwing, Prince Ardwin is left with a swan's wing instead of one arm, and finds himself torn between his earthly life and his desire to return to the skies. "Martin deftly weaves fairy tale into fiction," Carolyn Phelan wrote in Booklist, "giving the novel a rich context and Ardwin a familiar past."
"Storytellers can only make sounds on the air—that's all spoken words are," Martin explained of his craft on his home page. "A writer can only make squiggles on paper. Yet those who hear or read those words can see, can feel and live, a whole life in their minds."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Audubon, November-December, 2001, Christopher Camuto, review of The Eagle's Gift, p. 86.
Booklist, October 15, 1993, Marcia Hupp, review of Animal Dreaming: Encounters in the Natural World, p. 463; April 15, 1996, Jeanette Larson, review of Rafe Martin Tells His Children's Books, p. 1455; March 15, 1996, Leone McDermott, review of Mysterious Tales of Japan, p. 1259; May 15, 1997, Karen Morgan, review of The Monkey Bridge, p. 1577; September 15, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Eagle's Gift, p. 238; February 15, 1998, Karen Morgan, review of The Brave Little Parrot, p. 1014; April 15, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Twelve Months, p. 1562; July 1, 2001, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Language of Birds, p. 2011, and Hazel Rochman, review of The Storytelling Princess, p. 2014; November 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of The Shark God, p. 476; February 15, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of The World before This One: A Novel Told in Legend, p. 1066; November 15, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Birdwing, p. 46.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 2002, review of The Shark God, p. 179.
Canadian Review of Materials, November, 1993, review of The Twelve Months; November 16, 2001, review of Dear as Salt, p. 218.
Childhood Education, summer, 2002, review of The Shark God, p. 239.
City Newspaper, October 15-21, 2003, Joseph Sorrentino, "Tell Me a Story: Rafe Martin Makes Magic with ‘Sounds on Air.’"
Emergency Librarian, March-April, 1998, review of The Eagle's Gift, p. 47.
Horn Book, September-October, 1996, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Mysterious Tales of Japan, p. 605; July, 2000, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Language of Birds, p. 470; November-December, 2001, Mary M. Burns, review of The Shark God, p. 761; January-February, 2006, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Birdwing, p. 84.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2001, review of The Shark God, p. 1297; October 15, 2002, review of The World before This One, p. 1534; September 15, 2005, review of Birdwing, p. 1030.
Kliatt, November, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of The World before This One, p. 12.
Newsweek, November 22, 1993, review of The Boy Who Lived with the Seals, p. 54.
Publishers Weekly, June 5, 1995, review of One Hand Clapping: Zen Stories for All Ages, p. 61; February 26, 1996, review of Mysterious Tales of Japan, p. 105; August 18, 1997, review of The Eagle's Gift, p. 92; December 1, 1997, review of The Brave Little Parrot, p. 52; June 19, 2000, review of The Language of Birds, p. 79; April 16, 2001, review of The Twelve Months, p. 67; June 25, 2001, review of The Storytelling Princess, p. 72; November 5, 2001, review of The Shark God, p. 67.
Quill and Quire, August, 1993, review of Dear as Salt, p. 35.
Reading Teacher, November, 1993, review of The Rough-Face Girl, p. 232.
Resource Links, February, 2001, review of The Twelve Months, p. 5.
School Library Journal, July, 2000, Denise Anton Wright, review of The Language of Birds, p. 96; September, 2001, Starr LaTronica, review of The Storytelling Princess, p. 199; November, 2001, Adele Greenlee, review of The Twelve Months, p. 147; December, 2002, Susan Scheps, review of The World before This One, p. 165; February, 2003, Lee Bock, review of The Rough-Face Girl, p. 96; December, 2005, Sharon Rawlins, review of Birdwing, p. 150.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2006, Susan Rakow and Timothy Capehart, review of The Hungry Tigress: Buddhist Myths, Legends, and Jataka Tales, p. 18.
Washington Post Book World, November 13, 2005, Elizabeth Ward review of Birdwing, p. 11.
Arthur A. Levine Web site,http://www.arthuralevinebooks.com (November 20, 2006), "Q&A with Author Rafe Martin."
Rafe Martin Home Page,http://www.rafemartin.com (November 20, 2006).