GUESTS

A brief look into Native American life just before it is irrevocably changed in this rite-of-passage tale of a young Indian boy. Moss is annoyed with his father for inviting the strangers—white men—to the village's annual harvest festival. He declares that he will not celebrate with the guests and goes to the edge of the village to sulk. There he meets Trouble, a girl about his age, and boastfully announces that he is going on his ``away time''—a boy's solitary journey into the forest to become a man and take a new name. Trouble does not believe him, so Moss foolhardily treks alone into the forest to prove her wrong. In the forest he learns about life, nature, and beauty from a grouchy old porcupine and transforms himself from a selfish little boy into a sensitive young man. Moss and Trouble meet again, and this time he shows a real interest in her. They develop a bond born of mutual understanding and return to the village to share in the festival. Interspersed with Moss's story are Indian legends that give the whole an added richness and depth, but the abrupt ending leaves the reader dissatisfied. Dorris obscures the simple story by weaving in too many threads—the white men, Trouble's troubled homelife—that dangle at the conclusion. A book that might have been outstanding had it delivered more or attempted less. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1994

ISBN: 0-7868-0047-X

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994

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EAGLE SONG

A rare venture into contemporary fiction for Bruchac (The Circle of Thanks, p. 1529, etc.), this disappointing tale of a young Mohawk transplanted to Brooklyn, N.Y., is overstuffed with plotlines, lectures, and cultural information. Danny Bigtree gets jeers, or the cold shoulder, from his fourth-grade classmates, until his ironworker father sits him down to relate—at length- -the story of the great Mohawk peacemaker Aionwahta (Hiawatha), then comes to school to talk about the Iroquois Confederacy and its influence on our country's Founding Fathers. Later, Danny's refusal to tattle when Tyrone, the worst of his tormenters, accidentally hits him in the face with a basketball breaks the ice for good. Two sketchy subplots: Danny runs into an old Seminole friend, who, evidently due to parental neglect, has joined a gang; after dreaming of an eagle falling from a tree, Danny learns that his father has been injured in a construction- site accident. A worthy, well-written novella—but readers cannot be moved by a story that pulls them in so many different directions. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-1918-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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