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Raising Sleeping Stones

From the The Orora Crona Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A tale encouraging readers to preserve dreams that’s both morally sound and entertaining.

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A young girl, fearing for her and her sister’s lives, flees a town on another planet into a realm of dreams and long-forgotten memories in this debut YA fantasy.

Kiva Stone is having trouble fitting in with others in Solasenda on the planet Gesplitst. Like everyone else, Kiva trains in various fields, from the stacking and constructing that an Erector would do to a plumber-esque Liquidator. But she doesn’t excel in any one area, so no one invites her to join a Guild. One day, Kiva and her little sister, DeeDee, travel to The Beginning, the wall at the Eastern edge of town, where DeeDee finds an opening. Kiva’s surprised to see seemingly abandoned buildings, Solasendans believing the first constructed houses are on the East side of The Beginning, within the town limits. The sisters also meet Hildegarde von Ringen, who collects junk as remnants of the past, contrary to Solasenda’s strategy of consistently moving West—into the future—without looking back. At home, the girls rarely glimpse their always-working mother and must contend with tyrannical Aunt Agnes. When Kiva overhears Agnes implying that she’ll get rid of the sisters, she and DeeDee abscond through the hole in the wall. They reunite with Hilde and learn about the six original tribes from Orora Crona, the Valley of Dreams that most don’t believe exists. Bennet delivers an engaging adventure, elevated by the Stone siblings. Kiva, for one, is resolute, so determined to win her placement test that she nearly dies in a fall and, after making new friends East of The Beginning, proves capable of much more, including mahna (dream powers). DeeDee often functions as comic relief, but never cloyingly so, and her frequent mispronunciations (Aunt Sister for ancestor, apple-gize for apologize) enjoyably display her developing intellect. The bulk of the action takes place outside Solasenda, while the threats in town—both Agnes and the powerful but sinister Mayor Mara— stay there. But there’s still danger, in the form of hunters whom the mayor has likely sent, and plenty for Kiva and DeeDee to absorb, most notably that there’s a lot about their parents they don’t know.

A tale encouraging readers to preserve dreams that’s both morally sound and entertaining.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 364

Publisher: DreamKeeper Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

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JUPITER STORM

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

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A fifth-grade New Orleans girl discovers a mysterious chrysalis containing an unexpected creature in this middle-grade novel.

Jacquelyn Marie Johnson, called Jackie, is a 10-year-old African-American girl, the second oldest and the only girl of six siblings. She’s responsible, smart, and enjoys being in charge; she likes “paper dolls and long division and imagining things she had never seen.” Normally, Jackie has no trouble obeying her strict but loving parents. But when her potted snapdragon acquires a peculiar egg or maybe a chrysalis (she dubs it a chrysalegg), Jackie’s strong desire to protect it runs up against her mother’s rule against plants in the house. Jackie doesn’t exactly mean to lie, but she tells her mother she needs to keep the snapdragon in her room for a science project and gets permission. Jackie draws the chrysalegg daily, waiting for something to happen as it gets larger. When the amazing creature inside breaks free, Jackie is more determined than ever to protect it, but this leads her further into secrets and lies. The results when her parents find out are painful, and resolving the problem will take courage, honesty, and trust. Dumas (Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest: Episode 5, 2017, etc.) presents a very likable character in Jackie. At 10, she’s young enough to enjoy playing with paper dolls but has a maturity that even older kids can lack. She’s resourceful, as when she wants to measure a red spot on the chrysalegg; lacking calipers, she fashions one from her hairpin. Jackie’s inward struggle about what to obey—her dearest wishes or the parents she loves—is one many readers will understand. The book complicates this question by making Jackie’s parents, especially her mother, strict (as one might expect to keep order in a large family) but undeniably loving and protective as well—it’s not just a question of outwitting clueless adults. Jackie’s feelings about the creature (tender and responsible but also more than a little obsessive) are similarly shaded rather than black-and-white. The ending suggests that an intriguing sequel is to come.

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943169-32-0

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Plum Street Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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