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The Light in the Forest


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Conrad Richter was born in Pennsylvania, the son, grandson, nephew, and great-nephew of clergymen. He was intended for the ministry, but at thirteen he declines a scholarship and left preperatory school for high school, from which he graduated at fifteen. After graduation, he went to work. His family on his mother's side was identified with the early American scene, and from boyhood on he was saturated with tales and the color of Eastern pioneer days. In 1928 he and his small family moved to New Mexico, where his heart and mind were soon caputred by the Southwest. From this time on he devoted himself to fiction. The Sea of Grass and The Trees were awarded the gold medal of the Societies of Libraries of New York University in 1942. The Town received the Pulitzer Prize in 1951, and The Waters of Kronos won the 1960 National Book Award for fiction. His other novels included The Fields (1946), The Lady (1957), A Simple Honorable Man (1962), The Grandfathers (1964), A Country of Strangers (1966; a companion to The Light in the Forest), and The Aristocrat, published just before his death in 1968.


Richter's (The Awakening Land) classic tale of a boy torn between families and cultures makes for a compelling audio adaptation. When he was just four years old, John Cameron Butler was captured by the Lenne Lenape Indians. He has since been adopted by the Indians, who named him True Son, and has grown to love the only family he has ever known, as well as the ways of his people. But now it's 1765 and in order to make a land deal, the Lenne Lenape and other tribes have agreed to return all their captives to the white Army, including now-15-year-old True Son/John. When he arrives at the Butler home in Paxton, Pa., True Son chafes at his white family's speech, customs and clothing, acting defiant and depressed. He soon manages (with help from his cousin Half Arrow) a dangerous escape and rejoins his Indian relatives. But once back among his people, True Son commits an act of betrayal that forces the Lenne Lenape to disown him forever, leaving him a young man unsure of where he belongs. Bregy's assured, crisp delivery gives extra resonance to Richter's careful scene-setting, quickly transporting listeners to a distinct, long-ago era. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 4-8-A classic in its own right, this novel by Conrad Richter (Knopf, 1953) lends itself well to the dramatic reading by Terry Bregy. John Butler, born in a small frontier town, was captured at age four by the Lenni Lenape Indians and raised by the great warrior, Cuyloga, who named the boy "True Son." He grew up thinking, feeling, and fighting like an Indian. Now rescued and restored to his family because of a treaty to return all white captives to their own people, John Butler rebels against this civilization and desires to return to the tribe. Escaping from the family farm in Pennsylvania, he discovers the eternal and irreconcilable conflict between the two worlds. "True Son"/John Butler asks, "Who am I? Where do I belong?" The narrative reading is replete with emotion; it reflects the harshness and the eloquence of the story as it is revealed. The benefits of listening to this moving tale are many; expression and dramatic reading aid understanding. For a sense of history and a sense of conflict between two different cultures, this novel is a masterpiece by one of America's finest writers. School and public libraries will want to make this a priority purchase.- Patricia Mahoney Brown, Franklin Elementary School, Kenmore, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Rebellion, glowing vitality. . . . The spirit of the wild frontier. . . . An absorbing story, marked by Richter's uncanny skill in recapturing the atmosphere of the past." -The New York Times Book Review "Memorable . . . Richter tells the story with [a] glowing passion for unspoiled nature. . . . It is impossible to doubt the detailed . . . accuracy of the picture." -New York Herald Tribune "Good reading for anyone curious about the past of our country." -The Yale Review

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