No Passengers Beyond This Point

Gennifer Choldenko, Author
Gennifer Choldenko, Dial, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3534-7
Reviewed on: 12/06/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Best known for her Newbery Honor–winning historical fiction, Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts) forays into high-concept fantasy with mixed results. Having lost the family home to foreclosure, the widowed schoolteacher mother of three—India, Finn, and Mouse Tompkins—puts them on a plane to Denver to live with an uncle while she finishes out the academic year in California. After some turbulence, the plane lands, but what follows is a hallucinatory journey, which unfolds in alternating first-person chapters narrated by each sibling. The trio is given a rock star welcome by the residents of a city called Falling Bird, chauffeured in a pink, feathered taxi by a 12-year-old, and offered dream homes and—except for six-year-old Mouse—jobs. They sense something's amiss, and after some soul-searching, especially by angry teen India, the children realize all they want is to reach their uncle's place. The revelation of what really happened doesn't quite square with a narrative told in three voices, but Choldenko's pacing is sure and her use of airport argot (white courtesy phones, a missing black box) adds an inventive element to this story of unlikely survival. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)
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