Joe was raised, in large measure, by his grandmother and grandfather in the house in which he still lives In Greenfield Center near Saratoga Springs, NY. Intrigued and drawn to his Abenaki heritage on his mother’s side of the family, Joe changed his college major at Cornell from Wildlife Conservation to English and Creative Writing, and later earned a Ph.D. When he finished college, and wanting to do something meaningful with his life, he and his wife Carol went to West Africa for three years to live, teach and work in a school library and bookstore. Perhaps known first as a poet, then as an author of children’s books, he eventually became a sought-after storyteller and an author in multiple genres.
His themes are recurrent: traditional stories about animals, often shared by grandparents and elders; a reverence for the earth and all who live upon it; gratitude; and the wisdom to be able to see a person or an issue from all sides. He has a gentle, self-deprecating sense of humor, and a kindness and wisdom that comes from knowing himself and his place in the world. That said, Joe is by no means one-dimensional. He loves fantasy literature and can write a frightening scary YA thriller like Skeleton Man, too, and his appreciation for diversity extends beyond Native Americans. He taught African American literature at Skidmore College, and has written eloquently of black soldiers in the Civil War.
The University Libraries at UNC Greensboro, with the help of the Pam and David Sprinkle Children’s Book Author and Storyteller Fund, are pleased to sponsor his visit to North Carolina from September 9-12, 2016. He will make appearances open to the general public at the Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors in Winston-Salem on Saturday, September 10 at 1:45 p.m. and at the National Folk Festival in Greensboro at noon and 1:45 on the McDonald's Family Stage on Sunday, September 11. During his visit, he will also make school visits in Winston-Salem and appear at UNCG before 4th graders from several Guilford County schools on Monday, September 12, when he will also do Q&A with UNCG students studying to be elementary school teachers.