Theodore Roosevelt
Letters From a
Young Coal Miner.

Chicken Chuck
“Every page is a whimsical visual treat.” School Library Journal, June 2000

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Written by Dia Calhoun
Illustrated by Hervé Blondon

Top 10 First Novels for Youth, Booklist, 11/1/1999
"In a deft combination of fantasy, adventure, and coming-of-age themes, Calhoun tells the story of a young man whose difference (blue eyes instead of brown ones) threatens a community that relies on conformity."

Book Report, 10/1/1999
"This fantasy novel demonstrates that an understanding of one's self can lead to tolerance. Jonathon is set apart in the brown-eyed Valley because of his blue eyes, since only the hated Dalriada have blue eyes. As he reaches puberty, he learns the townspeople think that children with blue eyes go insane. When blight begins killing the orchard trees and Jonathon is blamed, he learns the horrible truth—he is part Dalriada on his mother's side. He cannot accept this because the Dalriada killed his mother. Jonathon goes to the Red Mountains and discovers that the Dalriada are not crazy or terrible. He then decides to stay with the Dalriada, but cannot complete his coming of age until he journeys back to the Valley and sees his father. During the visit he realizes he can honor both his Valley and Dalriada heritage. I enjoyed this search-for-self novel and found the world Calhoun created to be very realistic. The discovery at the end of the story that his father is also part Dalriada adds an interesting twist to the story. Young teens will relate to Jonathon's sense of isolation. This is Ms. Calhoun's first novel for young adults. I look forward to the next. Recommended."

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 9/1/1999
"Calhoun has created a compelling mythology for two warring cultures, once one but now separate, and the boy who seeks to reunite them. Jonathon is a believable young adult hero, a confused adolescent at odds with his father and endangered by what he doesn't know. Characterizations are strong and motivations emotionally credible. Jonathon's quest to find his place in the world is fueled by grief at his mother's death; his discovery of his Dalriada roots and his triumphant completion of the Ridgewalk (the Dalriada initiation into adulthood) leads him back to the Valley to settle all that remains undone. The plot bristles with scenes of suspenseful action and potential danger, building toward Jonathon's final reconciliation with his father. It is a credit to Calhoun's plotting and characterization that the emotional resolution of her hero's return to the quiet Valley has as much resonance as his successful completion of the perilous Ridgewalk."