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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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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