Readers who would like to go on a spirit quest should choose instead Sylvia Ross’ more carefully crafted and respectful Blue...

On the day her little brother Peter is hospitalized with a life-threatening illness, 11-year-old Feather is taken on a spirit quest through Manhattan in a series of improbable events in which her Lakota grandfather passes on some of his powers as a traditional healer.

Feather describes the day she saved her 5-year-old brother's life in a chronological narrative she writes up after the fact. This frame reassures readers but removes most of the suspense. Her focus is not plot but the particulars of her spiritual training. This cultural appropriation of another’s religious traditions is surprisingly insensitive. Although the Texan author has dedicated his book to generic “First Americans,” his only stated personal connection is “lifelong interest and respect.” No sources are provided for the mishmash of Native American cultural and ceremonial details. Wooden dialogue and stereotyped characters add to reader discomfort. Also involved in Feather’s training are a magical taxi driver, an Arapaho with whom her grandfather can “talk the old talk,” although those peoples had different languages; a Kodiak bear in the Central Park Zoo; Mrs. Chen, the ageless owner of an international curio shop in Greenwich Village; and the Andersons’ Jewish landlady, a Holocaust survivor, who brings chicken soup to the boy.

Readers who would like to go on a spirit quest should choose instead Sylvia Ross’ more carefully crafted and respectful Blue Jay Girl (2010). (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-934133-49-1

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Mackinac Island Press

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012


From the Swindle series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Griffin Bing is “the man with the plan.” If something needs doing, Griffin carefully plans a fix and his best friend Ben usually gets roped in as assistant. When the town council ignores his plan for a skate park on the grounds of the soon-to-be demolished Rockford House, Griffin plans a camp-out in the house. While there, he discovers a rare Babe Ruth baseball card. His family’s money worries are suddenly a thing of the past, until unscrupulous collectables dealer S. Wendell Palomino swindles him. Griffin and Ben plan to snatch the card back with a little help. Pet-lover Savannah whispers the blood-thirsty Doberman. Rock-climber “Pitch” takes care of scaling the house. Budding-actor Logan distracts the nosy neighbor. Computer-expert Melissa hacks Palomino’s e-mail and the house alarm. Little goes according to plan, but everything turns out all right in this improbable but fun romp by the prolific and always entertaining Korman. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-90344-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008


After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)


Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

Close Quickview