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Ship of Souls [Kindle Edition]

Zetta Elliott
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Dmitri, an eleven-year-old bird-watcher and math whiz, loses his mother to breast cancer, he is taken in by Mrs. Martin, an elderly white woman. Unaccustomed to the company of kids his own age, D struggles at school and feels like an outcast until a series of unexpected events changes the course of his life.

First, D is asked to tutor the school’s basketball star, Hakeem, who will get benched unless his grades improve. Against the odds, the two boys soon realize they have something in common: they are both taunted by kids at school, and they both have a crush on Nyla, a beautiful but fierce eighth-grade girl. Then Nyla adopts D and invites him to join her entourage of “freaks.” Finally, D discovers an injured bird and brings it home from the park.

D is stunned when the strange bird speaks to him and reveals that she is really a guiding spirit that has been held hostage by ghost soldiers who died in Brooklyn at the start of the American Revolution. As Nuru’s chosen host, D must carry her from Brooklyn to the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan, but the ghost soldiers won’t surrender their prize without a fight.

With the help of Hakeem and Nyla, D battles the Nether Beings who lurk underground, feeding off centuries of rage and pain. But it takes an unexpected ally to help the trio reach the ship that will deliver the innocent souls of the dead back to Nuru’s realm. An urban fantasy infused with contemporary issues and historical facts, Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott will keep teen readers gripped until the very end.

Product Description

About the Author

Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott moved to Brooklyn in 1994 to pursue her PhD in American studies at New York University. Her poetry and essays have been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland. She wrote the award-winning picture book Bird and the young adult novel A Wish After Midnight. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 334 KB
  • Print Length: 141 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (28 Feb. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Y0BYA6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #178,061 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Zetta Elliott earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU. Her poetry has been published in the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto's Black Storytellers, and her essays have appeared in The Black Arts Quarterly, thirdspace, WarpLand and Rain and Thunder. She won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books' New Voices Contest, and her picture book, Bird, was published in October 2008. Her first play, Nothing but a Woman, was a finalist in the Chicago Dramatists' Many Voices Project (2006). Her fourth full-length play, Connor's Boy, was staged in January 2008 as part of two new play festivals: in Cleveland, OH as part of Karamu House's R. Joyce Whitley Festival of New Plays ARENAFEST, and in New York City as part of Maieutic Theatre Works' Newborn Festival. Her one-act play, girl/power, was staged as part of New Perspectives Theater's NYC festival of women's work, GIRLPOWER, in August 2008. Her self-published young adult novel, A Wish After Midnight, was re-released by AmazonEncore in February 2010. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too short 20 Jun. 2012
By Moonless VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a wonderful story and I don't understand why the author chose to write it as a novella. The plot had so much potential that it's a shame it was cut short before it really got going.

The main character, Dmitri, or `D', is a foster child, and the first half of the story focuses on D's attempts to settle into a new life with his foster mother. This brings its own problems of life without parents and trying to be accepted in a new school. He is unexpectedly befriended by cool but kooky Nyla and the school's basketball superstar and heartthrob, Keem.

Keem has his own problems to face as a Muslim in post-911 America while Nyla - pierced and fierce - gives D the friendship he desperately needs.

The story then takes a strange turn when we are suddenly thrown into a fantastical, magical tale. Here, the three protagonists fight evil to save hundreds of lost souls who have languished in the depths of New York for centuries. This part of the story is also well told, focusing on the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, a graveyard for hundreds of free and enslaved Africans, which was discovered in 1991.

It feels as if there are two disparate parts to this story; both would work well as individually told tales. The fantasy part about the African Burial Ground which also includes the American Revolutionary War as a backdrop, uses an important part of American history on which to base the story, and it would have been great to expand this further.

Overall, I enjoyed this story very much. It was well-written, thoughtful and original. Just a shame that, at 118 pages, it felt pretty rushed and seemed to gallop through to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE QUEST FOR FULFILMENT 25 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Under Brooklyn's Prospect Park the dead cannot rest. For two centuries tormented souls of war victims have awaited deliverance - other souls determined to thwart, they as racist now as then. Caught up in the struggle are an unlikely threesome - eleven year old black Dmitri, school basketball champ Moslem Keem, punk Nyla. Spurring them on is talking bird Nuru....

An intriguing theme, its three central characters full of potential. Unfortunately the novel's brevity (barely 120 pages) proves a problem, many readers perhaps wishing for more fleshing out. They may also have difficulties with the "I" narrative, its style hardly that of a boy of eleven.

Although at times magical and moving (as with the ghost of young soldier Billy), for me the story's main impact was in its early pre-fantasy stages. Take, for example, when "freak" Dmitri is confronted by a school bully, Keem unexpectedly intervening to declare, "He's with me." In an instant Dmitri's life is transformed - he no longer prey, but protected property. Here is a moment that rings true, such instances less evident elsewhere.

An uneven tale - certainly not disliked, but perhaps not liked as much as one would wish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not entirely convincing 31 Aug. 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a fantasy novel set in New York. D is a foster child having lost his mum to cancer, and never knowing his dad. One day he discovers a magic bird that needs him to help her save the lost souls of many dead people who have been prevented from making the final journey on the "ship of souls".

For me I was alright with the beginning of this book which introduced the back-story, D, his friends and his family circumstances, but then the fantasy elements came in and I was a little unconvinced by it all. Maybe that was because the magic bird was such a weak character (in my eyes at least) lacking a clear mission and a clear identity. Also D at the end of the book decides he has nothing to live for which was surprising given the promising life it looked like he had ahead of him, so I was unconvinced by that too.

Perhaps if the book was fleshed out it would have been better, so D's life would have looked worse and the danger parts could have been more suspenseful. As it was those parts were over in an instant. Reading the blurb suggests there is a lot going on but the full story is squashed into not far past 100 pages.

The book was still ok, but could have been better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Teaching you a bit of New York's history...... 7 Jun. 2012
By Both the Macs VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A short book (124 pages) aimed at older children and young adults, this is D's (Dimitri's) story about the ghosts/souls of black American slaves in New York. D, a black child, has been left alone when his mother dies from cancer, and he is fostered by an elderly white foster mother. He's bright, a maths whizz kid, but considered a bit of a freak. But at his new school he makes two new friends - Nyla, a hard faced girl who has travelled the world with a military father, and Hakeem, a muslim who is going to be big in basketball. When it becomes clear that the three are dealing with something bigger than all of them, the adventure begins.

I was not particularly taken with the style of writing, but I believe that is because it was written to appeal to readers of 10 plus, but also to listeners from around age 8. So it does seem rather niaive. But it's easy to read, and the story grips and takes you with it. I am sure it was written with schools in mind, for it seems a good teaching tool, and the discussion topics at the back of the book (which of course I didn't see until the end) confirm that. Whilst this would probably be more interesting for American readers, based on a chunk of New York's history I knew nothing about; it does stand alone as an adventure story with a touch of magic built in. If it does no more than make a child eager to learn about this historic subject, it will be worth it, and a good starting place is to google the African Burial Ground National Monument.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
not for me slow to get started
Published 10 months ago by penny thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Truly amazing book,it only took a couple of days to read. I started to read and could not put it down.
Published 12 months ago by A. T. Clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed
the story was very good and kept me wanting to keep reading
not really my type of book hence 4
Published 18 months ago by ross hicks
4.0 out of 5 stars Ship of souls by Zetta Elliot
Enjoyed the tale between life and afterlife. The tale wasn't to scary more magical and would be a good trade for anyone.
Published 19 months ago by Ann Sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and different
I liked it because it was different, history, children on a mission and heart felt feelings, and a bit scary too.
Published 19 months ago by Hilary Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving
I was glad I got this book. It was deeply moving and unlike any thing I have read for a while. It explores death, release, acceptance and purpose. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Mmm
Not what I expected. Not as good as I thought sadly. .more like a kids story
Glad it was cheap !
Published 19 months ago by Tricia1008
4.0 out of 5 stars almost makes me like Brooklyn
good characterisation held me to the end even though I only bought it because it was cheap and was sited in Brooklyn, a part of America I will have to get to like for family... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Marion McKay
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and very interesting.
I loved it had to read to the end. Would recommend the radio any one. Spiritual rewards learning hidden meanings.
Published 22 months ago by Marlene.wright
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This was quite accomplished. There were some well drawn characters, an interesting storyline and its heart was in the right place. Read more
Published on 29 Nov. 2012 by The Emperor
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