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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Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to...


Nervous, home-schooled by her absent and much-missed mom and saddled with three adored older brothers—and a ghost—Maggie starts high school.

Largely but not entirely left by her doting upper-grade sibs (who had “first days” of their own) to sink or swim, Maggie starts off in lonely isolation but quickly finds two great friends in Mohawk-wearing, multiply pierced, exuberantly logorrheic classmate Lucy and her quieter (but also Mohawk-topped) brother Alistair. Simmering complications soon reach a boil as Maggie discovers that Alistair and her own oldest brother Daniel have some sort of bad history, and on a more eldritch note, a woman’s ghost that Maggie had occasionally seen in the nearby graveyard takes to floating into her house and right up to her face. Filling monochrome ink-and-wash panels with wonderfully mobile faces, expressively posed bodies, wordless conversations in meaningful glances, funny banter and easy-to-read visual sequences ranging from hilarious to violent, Hicks crafts an upbeat, uncommonly engaging tale rich in humor, suspense, and smart, complex characters.

Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to coping with change and taking on challenges. (Graphic fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-556-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Life takes the closely knit Harrisong clan, first introduced in Deliver Us From Normal (2005), about as far from “normal” as it’s possible to get in this wild sequel set three years later. Glum teenage narrator Charles realizes a dream when he sells an article about his family’s earlier experiences to a magazine. However, the dream turns nightmarish when lawyers descend, first threatening to sue over his disparaging picture of the Bargain Bonanza chain store, then suddenly changing their tune and railroading the panicked Harrisongs into agreeing to front a new line of NormalWear and other shoddy products. Instant sensations, the junky goods propel the Harrisongs into international celebrity, whisking them from their rickety houseboat, the S.S. O’Migosh, to a penthouse condo and a whirl of limos and photo shoots. It all looks glamorous at first, but the Harrisongs soon discover a seamier side to contract slavery. Complicated by suddenly locked doors and trumped-up accusations of child abuse, they contrive a baroque, unlikely but satisfyingly successful escape. Readers will be pleased to see this simple, loving family weather the perils of almost comically exaggerated success to land on its feet. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-439-79447-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2006

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