Guests

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Moss is frustrated. His father has invited outsiders who dress in strange clothes and speak an odd language to the village's special harvest meal - and no one but Moss seems to care how that will change the way things have always been. No matter whom he talks to, no matter what he says, people just smile and tell him, "Someday you'll understand why." Impatient for answers, Moss impulsively goes into the forest alone for the first time, hoping to find some clue during his "away time" as to who he really is and who...
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Overview

Moss is frustrated. His father has invited outsiders who dress in strange clothes and speak an odd language to the village's special harvest meal - and no one but Moss seems to care how that will change the way things have always been. No matter whom he talks to, no matter what he says, people just smile and tell him, "Someday you'll understand why." Impatient for answers, Moss impulsively goes into the forest alone for the first time, hoping to find some clue during his "away time" as to who he really is and who he should become as a man. But even in the woods, nothing is quite the way he expects it to be, and before he finds his way home, Moss must see the world as a more complicated - and much more interesting - place. Learning from the subtle morals of old stories as well as by simply listening to the people around him, Moss grapples with the ultimate truth of being a grown-up: you are who you are.

Moss and Trouble, an Algonquin boy and girl, struggle with the problems of growing up in the Massachusetts area during the time of the first Thanksgiving.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
The day begins with an accident as Moss, a young Native American boy, carelessly handles and breaks an old wampum string, thus losing a valuable story from his people's past. Worried and reluctant to help in the preparations for a harvest feast that will be attended by strange new guests, Moss spends a short, unprepared "away time" in the forest. Here he meets a wise, mysterious porcupine who tells him to "be himself." Next he meets a young girl, Trouble, who is questioning her family role and culture. They both return with insights about their future. It is ironic that the presence at their feast of the strangers from across the sea seems relatively unimportant. This is a great portrayal of "Thanksgiving" from a Native American point of view.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Michael Dorris, an established adult-fiction author, has published a second successful novel for middle grade readers. Guests, a slim lyrical volume, views the first Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective. Dorris, himself Native American, grew up reading books with stereotyped Indians unlike anybody he knew or wanted to know. His fills his children's books with memories of his Native American community -- the laughter, storytelling and intimacy all missing in the books of his childhood. Moss, the hero of Guests, is only a season from making a solitary journey into the forest to seek the vision that will transform him from boy to man. At the story's opening, he cannot understand why strangers have been invited to his people's special feast day. He sulks, then flees to be alone in the forest, finding a young woman from his tribe who has also run away because her family truly makes her miserable. Moss' journey away from self-absorption into compassion takes center stage; Dorris keeps the Europeans in the wings, dwarfing the presumptuous ethnocentric vision of the first Thanksgiving. Dorris' poetic, storyteller's voice and strong characterizations dramatize this shift without sermonizing. Bravo!
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Moss's father extends his hospitality to a group of strangers who speak an entirely different language and who make the boy ``uncomfortable with their oddness.'' When his efforts to convince his parents that the guests should not participate in his people's harvest feast are rebuked, Moss runs away into the nearby forest. There he meets Trouble, a distant relative, and in trying to impress her, finds himself forced into his ``away time.'' Lost in the woods, he learns to look and listen, and begins to realize what it means to be a man during an encounter with a porcupine. He also finds solace in his conversations with Trouble, who eventually helps him find his way out of the forest. Though she is struggling with the strictures placed upon young women in her clan, they share universal early adolescent emotions about the lack of understanding their families afford them. Dorris's writing is elegant, full of evocative images and lush metaphors. He develops his intriguing characters in a leisurely way, and places little emphasis on plot. Young readers will need to work hard to piece together the clues that suggest the setting (someplace by the sea) and the identity of the guests (probably white settlers since they arrived after following a ``trail through the sea''). They will be able to comprehend the words, but some may miss the story's ultimate meaning.-Ellen Fader, Oregon State Library, Salem
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786813568
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

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(3)

2 Star

(1)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2002

    Guests

    I think this book was boring. some parts of the book were interesting but other wise it was boring. some people like books like this. e

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    AWFUL!!!

    This book was crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hated soooo much. I was forced to read this poop for school and I couldn't go more than half a page with out nearly falling asleep. I mean the plot was kind of interesting but then Micheal Dorris comes along trying to write books again and Thats what happened DONT EVER READ THIS CRAP or ANYTHING by Micheal "cant write to save his life" Dorris I totally agree with you Izzie_B

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2008

    I'm Falling Asleep...

    This book was so boring it made me think that watching Hannah Montana make a fool of herself on T.V. would be more interesting than reading this, and I am a total book person. "Guests" was boring, too descriptive, too slow, and I would never reccomend this-unless you have a taste for boredom! >:P<BR/><BR/>Let me finalize this: WORST DARN BOOK EVER WRITTEN!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2003

    i loved this book

    Michael Dorris,although more a childrens writer, is one of my all time authors!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    Magnificent

    I thought the book was great. Nothing bad about it. Read it over and over.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    I loved this book

    This book is about a boy; and he does not want other people to come for dinner so he runs away.A girl called Truble helps him find His way back.When he gets back he knows it' is not so bad haveing guests for dinner.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2002

    Guests

    I think that the book had boring parts. If it was longer it would be more intresting.It had a twisting story that changed numerasly.I don't think that it is a book for younger readers because it doesn't have much actions.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2002

    The Review

    I think this book was boring Ithink adults would like it better.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2001

    a reviewer

    The monumental transformation I expected Moss to make never happened. The story behind the main story was enough to keep me reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews

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