Real

Felice Holman, Author, Robin Moore, Illustrator Atheneum Books $16 (160p) ISBN 978-0-689-80772-5
This 1930s supernatural tale about a boy's confrontation with historical apparitions presents a somewhat awkward meshing of past and present. Colly, the son of a Hollywood stunt man, stumbles upon the ghosts of a Native American, Sparrow, and Sparrow's grandmother during a trek across the desert. He agrees to give their bones a proper burial, but a concussion prevents him from carrying out the mission. During his recovery, Colly is plagued with other concerns: the recent death of his mother, his father's back injury, the thief who stole a valuable relic from his grandfather's adobe hut, and his growing fondness for Dolores, a rising starlet who reminds him of his mother. Italicized segments that follow the two Native Americans' spirits (who cannot stop reenacting their last day on earth) are interjected throughout but do not become relevant until the middle of the story. Numerous subplots and minor conflicts prove distracting, and readers' interest may wane before a contrived resolution loosely ties the threads together. While Holman (Slake's Limbo) successfully conveys the nobility of Native Americans and the beauty of the desert landscape, her development of characters (particularly the Hollywood types), plot details and transitions remain strained. Ages 9-14. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
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