THE DANCING TREE by Ramon Royal Ross


Age Range: 10 - 13
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 An eccentric piece, more like a sorrowful fairy tale with only a whisper of hope at its core. Zeenie, 12, describes how her mother left her and her father the week before, following years in a marriage that appears, to the child, enigmatic at best. She offers scraps of memory: her mother's worry over the cost of watermelon, a trip to the tiny cabin where her parents first honeymooned and where they obviously hope to recapture the happy past, her mother's announcement that she has taken a job outside the home. With her mother gone and her father increasingly remote, Zeenie turns to her grandmother for solace and receives, to her surprise, a story about the giant sycamore in the center of her meadow, an encounter with a regal gypsy, a wild dance around the tree, and an attack of rabid dogs. Ross (Harper and Moon, 1993, etc.) composes this novella entirely from Zeenie's perspective; what puzzles her will puzzle readers, too, and they may not understand or be comforted by the link between Zeenie's troubles and her grandmother's. The writing is evocative, deliberately episodic, every incident fraught with significance; understatement both adds to the compelling aura of mystery and leaves too much unsaid for some readers. For the rare few who will see its moments of grace. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-689-80072-X
Page count: 59pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995