THE WINDOW

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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WHILE NO ONE WAS WATCHING

A stolen rabbit connects three neglected children and a pair of young sleuths in this busy, overpopulated story from Conly (Crazy Lady, 1993, etc.). Bad-news cousin Wayne leads Earl Foster, 11, and his learning-disabled brother, Frankie, into an affluent neighborhood on another bike-stealing expedition; Frankie carries away a pet rabbit, instead sneaking it into the house where he and his siblings live with Aunt Lula until their father, laid-off, can get back on his feet. Addie, the rabbit’s devastated owner, gets little help from police, but finds an unexpected ally in her neighbor, Maynard, a lonely adopted classmate born in India. While the two are gathering clues, Aunt Lula vanishes, leaving Earl to care for his two siblings as best he can. Conly develops her story at a deliberate pace, splitting the point-of-view among no fewer than five characters. Angela, a bedwetter with a broken yardstick for a magic wand and an unfettered imagination, makes the rest of the cast seem generic; a pivotal scene is farfetched at best, and a wonderfully tidy resolution that finds Addie with her rabbit, the Fosters with their father, and Wayne in jail is equally contrived. The book is readable, but the capable Conly uses artifice to bring the plotlines together, and the Fosters are not as memorable as the abandoned children in Cynthia Voigt’s Homecoming (1981) or Jackie Koller’s A Place to Call Home (1995) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8050-3934-1

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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THE LOST CITIES

A DRIFT HOUSE VOYAGE

Washed back nearly five-and-a-half centuries by a sudden tsunami in the usually placid Ocean of Time, pre-teen siblings Susan and Charles, first introduced in Drift House (2005), tackle a space/time storm (confusingly mislabeled a “time jetty”) that is leaving a trail of destruction stretching from the Twin Towers through Pompeii and Atlantis to ancient Babylon. Once again lacing his tale with inscrutable elements—including at least one (possibly more) strong-willed magical volume(s) and at least one (ditto) other-than-human time “Returner” who single-handedly fills out the cast with multiple appearances in various guises—Peck plunges the separated Susan and Charles into contrived encounters with Pre-Columbian residents of Greenland and North America, and then on to twin cataclysmic climaxes over modern Manhattan (for Susan) and beneath the Tower of Babel (for Charles), before a final happy reunion aboard their ship-like Quebec mansion. Floating thinly atop its opaque, anthropocentric metaphor (“The jetty is a manifestation of the eternal human desire to cheat time, to get to the end without going through the middle,” explains the Returner, with typical clarity), the sequel is as likely as its predecessor to leave readers at sea. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-58234-859-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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