Marlene Carvell

While writing is an important part of my life, it certainly doesn't define who I am. Author, educator, wife, mother (and mother-in-law), grandmother, hiker, dancer, canoeist, cyclist, skier, and so on. Those roles, and many more, are what make me a rather contented individual.

And my background is not much different from so many others. I grew up in central New York in a rural environment, received my undergraduate degree in English from SUNY Potsdam and began both my public school teaching career and married life in 1969. I returned to graduate school in the 1970s, earning a Master of Fine Arts (Major in Drama; Minor in English Literature) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Missing our families and the change of seasons, my husband and I returned to New York in the late 1970s where we bought a large Victorian home in a small rural community and started a family of our own (ultimately two sons). Shortly thereafter, I continued my professional career at Cazenovia College where I taught until 1986 at which time I returned to public school teaching at a rural high school in central New York State, from which I retired in 2007. It was while teaching at this school that the love I had for writing was launched into a career when two of those roles mentioned above collided as son number two found himself on a one-person campaign to change his school's mascot. The result? Who Will Tell My Brother? and the beginning of my own incredible journey as an author.

Sweetgrass Basket
Marlene Carvell
Format: Hardcover
Grade Levels: 6; 7; 8; 9;

Two Mohawk sisters tell of their lives at the Carlisle Indian School near the turn of the 20th century. Carvell uses the experiences of her husband's family, and research from the Cumberland County Historical Society, to relate the stories of Mattie and Sarah. After their mother's death, their father sadly dispatches them to the boarding school, where the siblings cling to their language and a few precious items as the rest of their culture is stripped away from them. They long for family, for friendship, and for home, but their attempts to obtain any of these things result in a tragic and true-to-life ending. The inner-thought narratives allow readers to connect with the characters. Though the voices are nearly identical, making it difficult sometimes to tell the girls apart, and the voice of African-American Mr. Davis is awkwardly and inconsistently colloquial, Carvell has put together a compelling, authentic, and sensitive portrayal of a part of our history that is still not made accurately available to young readers.



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