A lively, original take on a story of a boy with more limits—and more magic—than most.

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The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman

In this YA coming-of-age novel, a disabled boy goes to live on his grandfather’s farm, meets a mysterious clan, and discovers special powers.

All Moojie wants to do is belong, but he never seems to fit in. Discovered as a foundling in a small California coastal town in 1892—with the name “Moojie” scrawled on his forehead—he’s adopted by the Littlemans. As a very small child, he can make objects fly using only his mind, among other unusual abilities. But he “didn’t talk or walk when he should have,” and “his left arm seemed only half-awake”; he needs crutches and leg braces as well, which disappoints his Papa. Moojie grows up lonely with only one friend: a deaf cat named Phineas. His warm, loving Mamma dies when he’s 8, and Papa takes the boy and his cat to his father Pappy’s place, St. Isidore’s Fainting Goat Dairy in the Valley of Sorrows. Although he’s warned against Hostiles in the surrounding wilderness, Moojie—now a teenager—glimpses a barefoot girl stealing eggs, and he’s determined to know more: “He ached for friendship, to be a valued member of something. That girl couldn’t have been alone.” He seeks out her clan; they come from far away, speak in riddles, address Moojie as “my lord,” and have much to teach him. He falls for Babylonia, the beautiful egg-stealer, and discovers within himself the ability to heal animals and people—but when trouble brews on several fronts, Moojie faces a difficult choice. Gregory’s debut novel weaves together familiar elements, such as an outcast with special powers, in unexpected ways. Moojie is endearing and sympathetic but never infantilized because of his disability. Despite the book’s many serious themes, which Gregory handles well, it also has a light touch. The author’s verbal playfulness adds to the book’s fun, as when an aunt swallows Moojie “in a pentamorous hug, her body all tentacles and suction.” The book’s mysticism is lucidly presented, and its magical realism is effective, moving, and heartening.

A lively, original take on a story of a boy with more limits—and more magic—than most.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942545-00-2

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Mad Mystical Journey

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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

RALPH TELLS A STORY

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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