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The Return of Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
Review by Gayle Surrette
HarperCollins Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0060580909
Date: 25 July, 2006 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Molly and her parents are almost back to normal after a really rough patch where her parents were kidnapped, Molly was sent to live with an uncle she didn't know she had, the uncle turned out to be the kidnapper, and eventually Molly freed her parents. But the kidnapper wasn't found so they've been dealing with their fear that he may come back.

Molly's dad works at a bank and he's attending a conference at Mohonk Mountain House in the Shawangunk Mountains. It's an area that was settled long ago by the Lenape Indians. Molly's family is Mohawk and her father grew up on the rez on the border between the US and Canada. The family tells stories and keeps the traditions alive. Molly found the stories of rabbit to be especially helpful during the time her parents were in danger and feels her dreams helped her survive. Molly feels that "some dreams are more than dreams".

…There are two lessons in particular that helped me.

The first is that there really are monsters. They may have different names these days and wear different masks than in ancient times, but they can still kill you. Knowing that monsters do exist can help you recognize danger before it's too late. You'll realize you have to get out of the way and not just stand there like a fawn frozen in the middle of a four-lane highway while a semitrailer bears down on you at eighty miles an hour with its headlights blazing.

The second lesson is that even a child may be able to overcome or outwit a monster if she just keeps her wits about her and doesn't panic.

We're not long at the lodge before it seems that maybe Molly's fear that Skeleton Man will return was a foretelling. Weird things are happening. But due to their previous experience, Molly and her mother, with the help of Carazón, check out the lodge for escape routes and to memorize the corridors. But the feeling of being watched grows.

This is a family that trusts and believes in each other. The interactions and the aside to tell teaching stories are integrated seamlessly just making you feel a part of this family and learning to care for and worry about them.

Then the worst happens. Skeleton Man kidnaps Molly during a snow storm. Will she be able to escape him again. And if she does can she make it back to her parents before he retakes her. Why does he want her? The tension rises and I'm not going to tell you how it ends but it's different and exciting and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

Highly recommended for any age.

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