Dakota dream

Author Bennett, James W.,
Language English
New York: Scholastic Inc., 1994


After being shuttled between foster homes and institutions for most of his life, fifteen-year-old Floyd Rayfield escapes from a mental institution to a Sioux reservation, desperately seeking a family and a home.

Subjects :

  • Juvenile fiction
  • Fiction
  • Dakota Indians
  • Foster home care
  • Indians of North America

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Best Books :

  • Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 National Council of Teachers of English
  • Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, December 1993 Cahners
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1995 American Library Association
  • YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1994 American Library Association
  • YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1995 American Library Association

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Reading Measurement Programs:

Scholastic Inc. (New York:) 1994.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Upper Grade
Book Level 5.3
Accelerated Reader Points 7

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 760
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level High School
Reading Level 7
Accelerated Reader Points 9

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Reviews :

Jeanne Triner (Booklist, Jan. 15, 1994 (Vol. 90, No. 10))
Floyd Rayfield is a teenage victim of the social services system. Shuttled from one foster or group home to another for most of his life, he never feels he belongs anywhere. After a dream in which he sees himself as Charley Black Crow, Dakota Warrior, Floyd is certain that becoming a Dakota is his destiny, and he immerses himself in the tribe's culture and customs. When circumstances at the group home become more than he can bear, Floyd steals a motorcycle and flees to the Dakota reservation, where a kindly chief guides him through his hanblecheya, his vision seek, and, by accepting him as a Dakota, gives him both the courage to go back to deal with his life and the wisdom to understand that he will have to begin to trust those who are really trying to help him. The pace of the novel is a bit rushed, and many of the characters come across as hurriedly developed stereotypes. Floyd's voice is somewhat cynical for his years, but he is a strong, complex character with a basic integrity and an ability to succeed that certainly will appeal to young adults. The discussions of Dakota culture and the presentation of the vision quest are authentic enough to serve as a starting point for some multicultural insight, but Native Americans may be offended by the ease with which Floyd, who states in the last sentence that he is now an Indian, takes their culture for his own. Category: Older Readers. 1994, Scholastic, $13.95. Gr. 8-10.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Inc. (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1994.)

Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)
A teenage orphan wants to find a home. When he becomes Charly Black Crow, Dakota Warrior, he knows that he has found a home. The author provides a biting look at modern social services. 1994, Scholastic, $13.95 and $3.99. Ages 12 up.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Inc. (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1994.)

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
Shunted from one foster home to another, Floyd is sustained by the idea that becoming a Dakota is his "destiny"; one day, he'll be accepted into the tribe. As this novel by the author of I Can Hear the Mourning Dove (1990) opens, the 15-year-old arrives at Pine Ridge Reservation after an 800-mile trek on a "borrowed" motorcycle. Impressed with his sincerity, Chief Bear-in-cave (after conscientiously eliciting the name of the runaway's social worker) suggests that he engage in a vision quest -- during which Floyd remembers the events leading to his flight. An intelligent, fair-minded boy whose ambition is to write, he's been chronically in trouble: with the mean-spirited woman running his latest group home; in school, where teachers find his creativity a threat; with the social service bureaucracy. His one positive relationship is with new social worker Barbara, who -- naively but effectively -- defies the system in his behalf. Still, a concatenation of misunderstandings by the narrow-minded consortium responsible for his fate landed Floyd in a mental institution, from which he has just fled. Characters here are virtually all good or bad, while the outcome -- Barbara offers hope of a more congenial foster home; Floyd is invited to return to Pine Ridge next summer -- is optimistic. But the dynamics between a thoughtful boy struggling to keep his unique spark alive and the oblivious public employees doing their best to quench it are poignantly realized. A sobering portrait, with a conclusion young readers will find satisfying. 1994, Scholastic, $13.95. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Inc. (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1994.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Although foster child Floyd Rayfield, a lonely 15-year-old, knows little about his origins, he is certain of his destiny after he dreams he is a Dakota warrior. Determined to ``become'' a Native American, he changes his name to Charly Black Crow, stops wearing shoes and begins practicing ancient rituals--all of which leads to trouble with the ``system'' run by school authorities, house parents and psychologists. Following a series of unsuccessful foster placements and a brief stay in a mental hospital, Floyd runs away to a Sioux reservation. There, during a vision-seeking quest, the troubled teen comes to terms wth his past, present and future. Woven into this delicate story are themes echoing those of Bennett's first novel, I Can Hear the Mourning Dove , especially the sharp criticism of institutions and large bureaucracies that ``get so they serve their own needs rather than the people they're supposed to help.'' A diverse yet precisely drawn cast includes Floyd's deadbeat roommate, his overly optimistic social worker and Mrs. Grice, an inflexible house-supervisor who makes Cinderella's evil stepmother look good. Bennett's astute novel demonstrates enormous sensitivity. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Inc. (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1994.)

Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children s Books, February 1994 (Vol. 47, No. 6))
A few days ago, Floyd Rayfield was living in a group home (he's lived with foster families all his life), having trouble in school, and trying to adjust to a new social worker; now he's on the Dakota reservation, where he's made a pilgrimage on a stolen/borrowed motorcycle to fulfill what he views as his destiny: becoming a Dakota. The chief, nonplussed but thoughtful, sends Floyd-or Charly Black Crow, as he calls himself-on a hanblechaya, a four-day vision quest during which Floyd contemplates in flashback the events that have led him to this point. Although both the author and Floyd himself seem aware of how absurd the boy's quest may sound, this is a measured, serious story and Floyd, not your stereotypical problem kid, is admirable in his devotion and application. There's a refreshing implication that Floyd in fact does have the power and right to define himself, although he realizes that something other than destiny drew him to the Dakota ("Way back when, when I was just a kid, I felt real close to the Indians because their situation seemed just like mine"); he's also found a connection there that will shape his future. Readers puzzling out their own identities will empathize with self-possessed Floyd, fighting to define himself in a difficult world. R--Recommended. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1994, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1994, Scholastic, [144p], $13.95. Grades 7-12.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Inc. (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1994.)

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Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
New York: Scholastic Inc., 1994

Media Type: Language Material
182 p. ;
PZ7.B43989 ([Fic])

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