Dillon Dillon

( 2 )

Overview

What kind of parents would name their child Dillon Dillon?

For his tenth birthday, Dillon's parents give him a red rowboat with his name painted on the stern: Dillon Dillon. Why did his parents give him a name like that? To Dillon, it seems like the right time to find out. The truth alters everything Dillon has ever known or felt about himself and his family. But with the rowboat Dillon finds a new freedom as...

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Overview

What kind of parents would name their child Dillon Dillon?

For his tenth birthday, Dillon's parents give him a red rowboat with his name painted on the stern: Dillon Dillon. Why did his parents give him a name like that? To Dillon, it seems like the right time to find out. The truth alters everything Dillon has ever known or felt about himself and his family. But with the rowboat Dillon finds a new freedom as he embarks on a journey that takes him back to his beginnings. His discovery of an island and his memorable encounters with a pair of nesting loons bring him face-to-face with the magic and wonder of life. And though he cannot decipher all its mysteries, Dillon acquires, through these legendary birds, an understanding and acceptance of the world and his place in it.

In a powerful story full of questions, Kate Banks creates a character full of hope and courage. He lets us know what he is thinking — and it's this inner dialogue that we respond to, his constant bewilderment at the way things are that makes us love Dillon Dillon, from his crazy name to his tenacious spirit.

Kate Banks is the author of many picture books, most recently Close Your Eyes, and the Howie Bowles books. She lives in Menton, France.

During the summer that he turns ten years old, Dillon Dillon learns the surprising story behind his name and develops a relationship with three loons, living on the lake near his family's New Hampshire cabin, that help him make sense of his life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When the title character wonders how his parents could have given him a first name that is the same as his last, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery. PW wrote, "While many readers may react more to the slow pacing than to the poetics, Banks's stylistic devices may well enthrall literary-minded middle-graders." Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Although the title character is only 10 years old, this emotionally resonant tale could be an adult novel. That's because the questions Dillon faces in his 10th summer are questions we never stop asking: who am I, and where do I belong? But these questions are particularly important to the book's target audience. Any child who's ever wondered how to become the person he is meant to be will be enthralled by the story of Dillon Dillon. On his 10th birthday, Dillon asks a life-changing question—and once it's asked, it can never be un-answered. The boy's grief is assuaged and his healing assured by his observations of a pair of nesting loons. The nest site becomes his spiritual sanctuary, the place where he takes his first steps toward adulthood. Here he learns about responsibility and loss, and that identity is only partly determined by heredity—the rest is up to us. Banks shows us why the pain in our lives is always outweighed by the beauty and possibility of each day. Luminously written, deeply felt, Dillon Dillon is a treasure. 2002, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
— Donna Freedman
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-For as long as he can remember, Dillon wondered, "What kind of parents would name their child Dillon Dillon?- Parents who had forgotten that a name was the first thing you wore against your raw naked skin?- Dillon's parents were smart.- They would not do a thing like that. Not on purpose." He turns 10 on the family's annual summer vacation at the lake and feels bold enough to ask about his name. He discovers that his birth parents, his dad's sister and brother-in-law, died in a plane accident when he was 18 months old. He had been named Dillon McDermott and when he was adopted, his parents gave him their last name: Dillon. As the youngster comes to terms with this new reality, he becomes fascinated by a loon and her mate that nest in one of his sneakers on a nearby island. Soon after their chick hatches, he realizes that both parent birds have been shot and he wonders how the orphan will survive, until a few days later when he sees that another loon has stepped in to raise the chick. Symbolism that could overwhelm the plot is sensitively tempered by Dillon's emotional journey, the development of strong secondary characters, and engaging subplots. Reminiscent of Kevin Henkes's gentle novels, this introspective, somewhat magical story is perfect for all children who wonder about their place in the universe.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Established as a skillful writer of deceptively simple picture books about childhood curiosity and playfulness, Banks's first novel is intriguingly complex, enigmatic, and brilliant. From the mystique of the title, which is the main character's name, to the opening sentence, "Each of us has a story and it starts with a name," the reader is drawn into an eddy that swirls with the question, why would anybody stigmatize a child with the same first and last name? Dillon could never get past his name-until the family's annual summer vacation at Lake Waban when he turns 10. His family gives him a red rowboat with his name on it-spurring him to ask "that" question out loud. The long overdue answer is that his parents are really his aunt and uncle who adopted him when his real parents were killed. The boat gives him freedom to discover himself, rowing to a nearby island where he bonds with a pair of loons who bring Dillon face-to-face with the magic and wonder of life. When they persist in building a nest in his sneaker and lay an egg in it, Dillon feels himself becoming like them. "The loon's voice traveled into Dillon's bones, to the depths of his soul." He asks himself over and over again if it's possible for a boy to become a bird. Carefully thatched strands weave throughout Dillon's inner dialogue: his birthday boomerang that always returns, which his father says is its destiny; shoes-his as the nest and trying on his family's shoes; the parallel of the loon parents being shot and killed over water as Dillon's parents were killed in a plane accident over water; and the belief in the magical powers of loons to take us back to who we are. The flow of language is as smooth as calm water, theimagery graceful. As meticulous as loons preening their fathers, Banks has crafted a poignant quest for understanding by an unforgettable character whose name shaped his destiny, one that will reverberate in readers' minds like a loon's trill. Extraordinary. (Fiction. 8-12)
From the Publisher
"Kate Banks has written a gentle book about the nature of being." —Polly Horvath

"This is a book to be experienced with all the senses. The ache of reckoning as Dillon's summer brings him face-to-face with the unexpected truths of his life is turned by Banks's sensitive prose into a wonder-filled, moving quest for understanding. Beautifully rendered, this summer by the lake will linger with readers as surely as if they had rowed to Dillon's island and befriended his loons themselves." —Karen Hesse

"Established as a skillful writer of deceptively simple picture books . . . Banks's first novel is intriguingly complex, enigmatic, and brilliant . . . The flow of language is as smooth as calm water, the imagery graceful . . . Banks has crafted a poignant quest for understanding by an unforgettable character." —Starred,Kirkus Reviews

"This introspective, somewhat magical story is perfect for all children who wonder about their place in the universe." —Starred, School Library Journal

"Rhythmic and beautiful." —Boxed review, Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374417154
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/11/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 715,099
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.04 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Banks is the author of Walk Softly, Rachel, as well as many award-winning picture books, most recently The Cat Who Walked Across France. She lives in France.

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Read an Excerpt

At last Dillon stepped onto the island and tied the boat to a tree. He wandered to the spot where his father had buried the three coins, and knelt down. He began to dig. If he kept at it long enough, he was sure he would find the three silver dollars. Dillon dug for what seemed like forever, turning back layers of earth and layers of feeling. He felt happiness, then sadness, fear, and courage all mingled together in the tiers of dirt. Still, there were no coins, and what finally settled around Dillon was loneliness. It was a strange feeling. But it did not last long. Dillon was not alone.

The loon had returned and was nearing the edge of the island, preening its black-and-white feathers. It seemed not to notice Dillon. But as Dillon watched it, an odd feeling overcame him. A sound moved through his body and traveled to his mouth. It popped out like a small shriek, startling the bird. The loon looked up at Dillon. Straight into his eyes. Dillon remembered the grasshopper. He remembered his mother. And this time he looked back.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2003

    Nice, but sort of boring

    I really liked this book because the blurb was very interesting, and the plot of the story was interesting, but really when you are in the middle it gets boring because there is no mystery, just plain words right infront of you. And they tell you like it is. There's nothing really special about the book. So I just stopped readin in the middle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    Discover the beauty and wonder of life

    I bought this book for its beautiful cover and the inside didn¿t let me down. This has to be one of the best stories for young adults that I¿ve read in a long time. It¿s circulated among all five members of our family (ages 45, 42, 14, 12, 11) and it¿s left us all feeling that we knew personally each of the characters and that we¿d walked through their lives. The story left tears in our eyes, but filled us, like Dillon, with hope and awe at the beauty and wonder of life

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