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

Cloudscape

CHARLIE'S STORY

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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MORNING GIRL

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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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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