cover image Voyages


Doris Buchanan Smith. Viking Children's Books, $11.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-670-80739-0

Strapped to a hospital bed with a broken back, 12-year-old Janessa feels vulnerable and afraid. More than anything, she dreads the long afternoons when there are no visitors and few distractions. In order to pass the hours, Janessa learns the art of origami and amuses herself by making objects from colored paper. One of her creations, a small brown boat, becomes a means of passage to a magical island peopled with Nordic gods. On three occasions, Janessa travels to the kingdom of Asgard where she experiences both beauty and danger. Here she gains the courage to face hard facts about her condition and the violence that caused her injury. With remarkable skill, Smith links fantasy and realism to produce a tale as delicate and splendid as Janessa's paper boat. Poetic language and mythological allusion add a dreamlike quality. Ultimately, the novel is a celebration of life and truth; readers will not fail to be moved. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)