SEES BEHIND TREES

With characters who are wholly believable yet true to their era, Dorris (Guests, 1994, etc.) has created a coming-of-age novel from the myopic perspective of a sight-impaired Native American boy in 15th-century Virginia. Walnut, who is terribly near-sighted, learns to listen carefully and interpret nonvisual cues in such a way that he earns his adult name, Sees Behind Trees, and embarks on a great journey as companion to Grey Fire, an elder he much admires. It turns out to be his own adventure as he not only survives alone in snow, but rescues an infant. In recognizing how each individual has his or her own experiences, tests, and lessons, Sees Behind Trees comes to wisdom earlier than most. Dorris has captured the angst that is part of the invisible doorway between childhood and adulthood in this appealing, but not over-romanticized, view of what life may have been like for a pre-Columbian Powhatan youngster, how strangers were viewed by a small village group, and how differences were handled. The exquisitely crafted language remains so simple it can be enjoyed by middle-graders, while the brevity and adventure promise wide readership among less-skilled teenage readers. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-7868-0224-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.).

POPPY

From the Poppy series , Vol. 3

An adolescent mouse named Poppy is off on a romantic tryst with her rebel boyfriend when they are attacked by Mr. Ocax, the owl who rules over the area.

He kills the boyfriend, but Poppy escapes and Mr. Ocax vows to catch her. Mr. Ocax has convinced all the mice that he is their protector when, in fact, he preys on them mercilessly. When the mice ask his permission to move to a new house, he refuses, blaming Poppy for his decision. Poppy suspects that there is another reason Mr. Ocax doesn't want them to move and investigates to clear her name. With the help of a prickly old porcupine and her quick wits, Poppy defeats her nemesis and her own fears, saving her family in the bargain. 

The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.). (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09483-9

Page Count: 147

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995

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