cover image Dormia


Jake Halpern, Peter Kujawinski, . . Houghton Mifflin, $17 (506pp) ISBN 978-0-547-07665-2

Twelve-year-old Alfonso Perplexon has a gift, or is it a curse? He possesses “the powers of active sleeping,” which allow him to accomplish tasks and fight with superior skill while asleep (he awakens atop a giant pine tree as the book opens). When his self-proclaimed uncle, Hill, appears and tries to persuade Alfonso to travel through the mountains to save the people of Dormia, the boy leaves his family to embark on the journey. Their goal: to deliver the “Dormian bloom” unharmed; if they fail to plant it, the citizens will starve and the Dragoonya, led by evil Nartam (a fallen Dormian), will take over. Their trip is filled with doubt, stemming from Alfonso's encounters with white-eyed Kiril, who causes him to question his companions' motivations. Ultimately, Alfonso's faith and attitude that “sometimes you just have hunches about people” serve him even more than the innate powers of a Great Sleeper. The plot is standard fantasy adventure fare, though nonfiction writer Halpern and debut author Kujawinski offer some compelling battle scenes. Alfonso's quest believably demonstrates that the path home can be the most trying. Ages 10–up. (May)