Saturday, November 04, 2006

by Lois Lowry
(Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

Sweet dreams or nightmares—and such are the stuff of dreams as Lowry introduces readers to the dream-givers who creep around dark houses at night, collecting memories which they then bestow upon the humans as they dream, and their counterparts, the wicked Sinisteeds who give nightmares and sometimes travel in Hordes.

Littlest is enthusiastic about her work; Fastidious is tired and impatient, not at all a good match for a trainer and a trainee. Littlest only wants to collect more, hoping to give pleasant dreams to the old woman who lives with her dog, Toby, in the house where Littlest is assigned, but Fastidious won’t hear of it. Then Littlest is paired with a new partner, Thin Elderly, who is a much better guide and teacher. When the old woman takes in a foster child, John, who wants to return to his mother, Littlest might be the only one who can help them all bring their best dreams into reality.

Young readers might be confused at first by the alternating points of view.

Boston Jane: Wilderness Days
by Jennifer L. Holm
(Harper Collins: 2002)

Jane is tired of living among a group smelly, ill-mannered men, so she prepares her return to Philadelphia and her father, but just as she is ready to board the ship bound for home, Jane receives news that her father has passed away in Boston. Is seems that Washington Territory's Shoalwater Bay is now the only home she has, and she’s not sure how much longer she can stand it.

When Jane inadvertently puts a friend's life in danger, she joins Jehu and Kee-ukso, a Chinook Indian, on a trek through the wilds and a winter snowstorm to warn her friend someone is intent on killing him. Add to Jane’s difficulties her jealousy over the new woman in town, Mrs. Frink, and the problem with William Baldt, Jane’s former fiancé who plans to move all the Indians to a reservation, and Jane has a lot to overcome before she feels she truly belongs in Shoalwater Bay.

Another exciting read from an interesting series.

Boston Jane: The Claim
by Jennifer L. Holm
(Harper Trophy: 2004)

In the time Jane Peck has lived in the Shoalwater Bay area she has taken charge of her own life and even become the concierge for the hotel run by Mr. and Mrs. Frink, a woman who Jane has made into a friend. Life seems perfect—Jane’s love for Jehu has grown, she has friends, and she even has a claim on a large piece of property where Jehu is building her a house of her own. But then, her old rival, Sally Biddle, arrives and immediately sets about to make Jane’s life just as miserable as it was back in Philadelphia when they attended finishing school together. Add to that the return of William Baldt, the man who asked Jane to marry him then married an Indian woman instead, who now threatens to take her land, and soon Jane fears even those who are her friends might become her enemy.

Readers will feel Jane’s pain as she struggles against Sally’s nastiness, William’s political position, and the loss of friendships, no matter how brief.