A cliffhanger ending compels a return to this absorbing Indigenous fantasy.

THE GREAT BEAR

From the Misewa Saga series , Vol. 2

Morgan and Eli return to Askí in this sequel to The Barren Grounds (2020).

Actually, the Cree foster siblings have been returning nightly, taking advantage of the different passage of time between Earth and Askí to stay in the village of Misewa for weeks while their foster parents sleep. Their joy in staying with the animal beings of Misewa is tempered by the loss of the old fisher Ochek. On Earth, Eli is bullied at school so relentlessly he cuts off his braid, and their foster parents (who are White) have thrown Morgan for a loop by giving her the telephone number of her birth mother—whom the eighth grader hasn’t seen since she was taken away as a toddler. So when Eli proposes changing their portal to go to a time when Ochek is young, Morgan agrees. Their ensuing adventure is something of an idyll, giving the kids a glimpse of a peaceful, prosperous Misewa. Readers of Volume 1 will enjoy this new aspect on favorite characters just as much as Morgan and Eli do, especially the squirrel Arik and teenage Ochek. The struggle against the rampaging Great Bear—shockingly, a younger version of wise village elder Muskwa—drives the action. Robertson’s (Norway House Cree Nation) nods at the complexity of time-travel plots serve as wry metafictive commentary and also tie into his consideration of profound existential questions.

A cliffhanger ending compels a return to this absorbing Indigenous fantasy. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6613-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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