cover image Guests


Michael Dorris, Author Hyperion Books $13.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-7868-0047-6

At dawn, as the ``light from the smoke hole in the roof turned from black to gray,'' Moss is playing with a string of wampum when it breaks apart, scattering abalone shell beads in many directions. The design of the beads had held a story ``from long ago,'' and even Moss's grandfather can't recall the beads' arrangement. ``Now you owe us a story, Moss,'' he tells his grandson gravely. Dorris (Morning Girl) gives this boy in search of a story a fine tale to tell. Moss, a gentle and penetrating narrator, reaches deep within himself and delves into the fertile ground of his tribe's legends. Disgruntled that his father has invited strangers from another tribe to the family's harvest feast, Moss disappears into the woods, where he unexpectedly experiences his ``away time,'' a rite of passage that involves-in Moss's case-a conversation with a special porcupine. This episode, and his unprecedented communication with Trouble, a village girl who follows him into the forest, transform Moss by the time he returns home to share the feast with his family and their guests, whom he holds responsible for ``every strange and confusing thing that had happened to me today.'' Though his narrative may at times seem a little subtle for the intended audience, Dorris has drawn a piercing portrait of a boy and the powerful traditions that shape him. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)