Rayona Taylor, the heroine from Dorris's adult novels, A Yellow Raft in Blue River (1987) and Cloud Chamber (1997), is featured in this prequel, about her life as an 11-year-old who is abandoned by her Native American mother, and shuffled from place to place by her African-American father. Rayona spends time in two foster homes before she ends up with her father's mother, sister, and grandmother, who are white. Wherever she goes, Rayona has an effect on the adults—they grow and change while she stays the same. The first-person narration is sophisticated and perceptive, and seems to promise more of a story than it delivers: As the three older women and Rayona climb in a car for a cross-country trip back to the girl's mother, readers are ready for the story to begin at last, until they realize that there are only 20 pages left in the book. Dorris's lyrical writing and ability to create evocative moments will sustain those who have read his historical novels, but won't give them an idea of the real Rayona of the earlier books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-7868-0301-0

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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Horvath tops even Everything on a Waffle (2001) with this hilarious, heartrending tale of two unwanted children left with a pair of eccentric old ladies. As softhearted as her hard-drinking twin sister, Tilly, is surly, Penpen Menuto proclaims a willingness to welcome all who come to the door of their isolated old house—a resolve that is sorely tested by the twin entrances of mousy Ratchet Ratchet Clark, a distant relative, and Harper, a sharp-tongued adolescent raised, then abandoned, by a ne’er-do-well aunt. Subjecting their new charges to wonderfully lurid family stories and conversational volleys that tend to veer violently off-course, the 91-year-old twins both provide care, and need it—a combination that ultimately leads to Ratchet’s blossoming, and to Harper showing the worthy spirit beneath a truly rough-cut exterior. Though Tilly’s old heart finally gives out at the end, the author alleviates the tragedy with an epilogue describing how everyone else turns out (well). Once again Horvath displays a genius for creating multigenerational, interestingly extended families, and for blending high and low comedy into a tale rife with important themes and life-changing events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 7, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-39956-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

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Against a detailed backdrop of Ireland new, old and very old, friendships form, adversaries become allies and romance blooms as an ancient evil demands its due. Hitchhiking around Ireland, Findabhair and her American cousin Gwenhyvar daringly roll out their sleeping bags in a barrow at Tara—and Gwen wakes up alone, her companion having accepted an invitation in the night from Finvarra, Faerie’s king. With both magic and mundane help from a succession of friendly strangers, Gwen pursues the seelie court to get her back, a mission that turns particularly urgent when she learns that Findabhair has really been taken as a sacrifice to Crom Cruac, a monster driven from heaven even before the time of the elves. But Finvarra has fallen in love with his new consort, as she with him, and so Gwen suddenly finds herself gathering a band of modern-day heroes (plus one immortal) to defy the looming, evil Worm. Pausing only for lush descriptions of the landscapes and food in Ireland and in Faerie both, Melling opens the first US edition of her trilogy on a strong note, with a tale, romantic on several levels, that culminates in a heavy sacrifice. (afterword, pronunciation guide) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8109-5857-0

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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