A light read for preteens that brims with possibility but leaves too many things vague.




In Courtney’s debut middle-grade book, an ordinary boy visits a wonderful world where international refugees live among the clouds.

Young Charlie is looking forward to the upcoming baseball season but wishes that his father had a little more time in his busy schedule to help him practice. The only odd thing in his life is his clairvoyant Aunt Matilda, who enigmatically predicts that he’ll turn blue—a statement too strange for him to understand or take seriously. During a cross-country flight to his Roseport, New York, home from his aunt’s house in Portland, Oregon, Charlie’s plane undergoes strange turbulence and he finds himself sucked out into the open air, where he lands in the mysterious Cloudscape. There, people from all over the world live in different cloud regions, using whatever supplies they can scavenge from passing airplanes—the very practice that accidentally pulled Charlie in. He begins to change in fascinating ways as he acclimates to his new surroundings, taking on a scaly, clammy, and, as Aunt Matilda predicted, blue appearance like other residents. They introduce him to such wonders as cloud-flavored snow cones and baseball played with golf balls (and no grounders). But despite these marvels, he still plans to do what Cloudonians say is impossible: return to the ground below. Courtney’s lighthearted adventure offers rudimentary atmospheric science bolstered by fantastical sensory flourishes. But although the book excels at tactile descriptions (such as stickiness), it leaves the visuals of Cloudscape, such as the Cloudonians’ travels, origins, and living conditions, mostly to readers’ imaginations, a choice that undercuts the otherwise competent worldbuilding. A late discovery by Charlie opens this burgeoning series up to new possibilities in planned future volumes. The book also includes a reading-group guide, a few black-and-white photos of clouds and rainbows, and a handful of recommendations for further reading about clouds.

A light read for preteens that brims with possibility but leaves too many things vague.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9967059-1-2

Page Count: 142

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2016

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Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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