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Ship of Souls

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  212 ratings  ·  71 reviews
When 11-year-old Dmitri (“D”) loses his mother to breast cancer, he finds himself taken in by an elderly white woman, Mrs. Martin. D loves to watch birds and, while in the park, is amazed to find an injured bird that can talk. He takes it home and soon learns there are malevolent forces inhabiting the region beneath Prospect Park and they are hunting for the bird; Nuru is ...more
Paperback, 129 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Amazon Encore
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3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  212 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Jun 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook

Why this book?

It seemed interesting

What I thought

This is not what I was expecting. I wish the fantasy elements were developed more. Also did it really need to have a love triangle why couldn't they be just a group of friends? I liked the bit of history we got. I didn’t like reading the racial slurs at all, it really bugged me and cost the book a star. Overall it wasn't a book for me.
Set in New York, we meet D as he becomes adrift in the foster system, full of the pain of recent loss, his situation made doubly hard by his awareness that he has to be the best version of himself to avoid the possibility of being sent to a group home. Without the luxury of dealing with his pain, he has numbed himself, untrusting of connections, keeping his head down to survive. D's lack of ties to anyone means he's a suitable host to Nuru, a being from 'another world' who wishes to rescue trapp ...more
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
First Impressions:

Thea: Wow. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Ship of Souls, given its slender nature at under 200 pages (not that I have anything against slender packages, given that some of the most potent and effective stories I’ve ever read come with deceptively low page counts). I wasn’t expecting the power and poignancy of Ship of Souls, that’s for sure. This is a story that gets under your skin, that makes you feel and ache and love. If I had to sum up this novel in one word, a
This was a well-intentioned novel with a decently evocative sense of place that I found unfortunately too heavy-handed to be enjoyable to read.

The three main characters are the sort I wish there were more of in fantasy -- non-white characters who are centered in the narrative and who are clearly shaped by their race but not entirely defined by it. Unfortunately, they are never given the room to come to life. We are given the information encapsulated in the jacket description, and one or two offh
Francesca Forrest
Lovely characterizations and a touching, unusual plot. I would love to read an expanded version of this, so we could linger in situations and exchanges a little longer, but even happening as fast as it does, the story gives us a great sense of D, Nyla, Keem, Nuru, and Billy.
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
D became a ward of the state, when his mother died from cancer. Lucky for D, he is taken in by Mrs. Ward, a nice white lady. Things are going great for D until Mrs. Ward cares for Mercy, a crack baby. Soon, all of Mrs. Ward’s time is occupied by Mercy.

D is a math whiz. This is why Mr. Powell hires D to tutor his son, Hakeem in math. Nyla has captured the attention of both D and Hakeem. Soon, D, Hakeem and Nyla are hanging out together.

D decides one day to go to the park. Once in the park, D he
Katrina Burchett
Dmitri (aka D) is intelligent, an overachiever, a math whiz. The only family he had was his mother, until he lost her to cancer. Now D is in foster care. His foster mother, Mrs. Martin, is like a grandmother to him and it doesn’t bother him that she’s white. But then she gets another foster child and that does bother D; he’s left feeling like he matters to no one. Until a talking bird named Nuru comes into his life. Nuru is on a mission and she needs D’s help.

Zetta Elliott has a good imagination
MacKenzie Abernethy
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2018
Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott beckons readers to continue turning pages to learn what will become of Dmitri, or “D”, who is left without his close family and merely beginning to form new friendships with distinct character as his school, when a talking bird convinces D to take it home and assist it in an unbelievable mission. At first skeptical, D’s new friends Hakeem and Nyla soon support D’s strange journey to assist the bird with glowing eyes and a voice of its own.

This book would best suit
Katelyn Patterson
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fantasy
3.5 really
I really loved the concept of this book. I felt at times along the way that it could have been executed better. The fantasy elements felt rushed at the end to me. But this was my first Zetta Elliott work to pick up and I am looking forward to reading more.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Certainly unlike any other book of its kind, Ship of Souls is loosely plotted but deeply felt, with an urgent internal logic to its telling, like a fable or a myth, but grounded in many small everyday Brooklyn realities.
Diane DeVore-Kelly
What a delight

So much love and light in this book! I read it all in one sitting. I couldn’t wait to see where D would end up, in the light or in the dark. Wonderful Ending!
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
I enjoyed this book, the concept behind the book is brilliant! However I do think it could have been longer as everything was very rushed.
Dec 04, 2012 added it
Elliott, Z. (2012). Ship of souls. Las Vegas, NV: Amazon Publishing. 124 pp. ISBN: 978-1-6121-8268-1. (Paperback); $9.95.

Zetta Elliott lives in Brooklyn. On a recent trip to New York City, I walked through Prospect Park with Elliott. She pointed out two Revolutionary War marker stones that helped urge her toward this story. In Central Park, I walked mindful of this history. Elliott teaches ethnic studies and has her PhD in American Studies (with a focus on depictions of racial violence in Africa
Dec 04, 2011 rated it liked it
After 11 yr old Dmitri, who goes by D loses his mother to cancer, he's placed in foster care and goes to live with Mrs. Martin. Just happy to have a place to live, D is on his best behavior. D's only indulgence is bird watching in the park and he keeps to himself at school. D's status as a loner is challenged after he finds himself hanging out by chance with two of the popular kids, Hakeem and Nyla.

D's life changes forever after coming to the aid of a Bird that is anything but, its a being that
May 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I like reading in my comfort zone. And my comfort zone usually means strong women in fantasy. However, I also try to stretch myself, to read something that will introduce me to an unfamiliar culture or experience. Zetta Elliot’s Ship of Souls seemed to be the perfect compromise – a fantasy featuring a young black boy, set in (of all places) Brooklyn.

D has been on his own since his mother died of cancer. But being a math geek in New York City and trying to navigate school, a foster home and a ne
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013

I wish some of the fantasy elements had been developed a bit further, such as Nuru's role, his dialogue also came across sounding a little ridiculous and heavy on the 'wise mentor' scale. The characters did come across as having a message. It is made very clear that Hakeem is Muslim and Nyla is 'different from the stereotype. I wish the individuality of the characters had come off in a more subtle way (for example when Hakeem describes how his older sister listed all Muslim basketball players to
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Em's Review: D’s mom was his best friend and his only family. When she passes away, he ends up in foster care with a kind elderly woman named Mrs. Martin. Not wanting to be sent back to the group home, D is mindful to always be the best possible version of himself. Like the grandmother he never had, Mrs. Martin cares for D, but lately her attention has been focused on a new addition to the family, a crack-addicted baby that Mrs. Martin has decided to foster. At school, he doesn’t have to worry s ...more
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Ship of Souls

by Zetta Elliott

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612182681
Publisher: AmazonEncore
Publication date: 2/28/2012
Pages: 198
Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Summary: D’s mother has passed away, leaving him an orphan. Luckily, D is very intelligent from being home schooled as a child, so he is placed into foster care quickly. D and his foster-mother get along very well. He is on his best behavior, and he does enjoy being with her. However, his life changes slightly when a
Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it
D never really had a lot of friends so the loss of his mother is particularly devastating to him. As the only child of a single mother, there’s little else for him other than the foster care system. D doesn’t know much about the workings of the system, but he knows that nothing in his life will be secure anymore. Elliott does a masterful job of writing this story on so many levels! Where we see how much D has: his quick placement in a caring home, a good school with teachers who care about him a ...more
Judy & Marianne from Long and Short Reviews
Originally posted at:

Dmitri’s entire world is turned on its ear when, at eleven, his mother loses her battle with breast cancer. Because he’s being shuffled between foster care and his new home, starting a new school, and finding new friends, he’s more than just a little off kilter, to say the least. So, he shouldn’t be too surprised when the injured bird he rescues from the park turns out to be anything but a bird, right?

Dmitri, or D as he comes to be ca
The fact that the protagonist, D, is a math whiz caught my mathematical eye and drew me to this intriguing children’s book. But no, you don’t need to be a mathematician to enjoy it. Having some small sympathy for kids who feel like outcasts will help of course, but then, what kid doesn’t feel that way sometimes. And, as this story tells, even the popular kids can be outcasts of a sort. All of which Ship of Souls a pleasingly different story for young teens.

D is a foster child who tries too hard
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm primed to like any book that begins with an author essay about the magic she sees in the world around her and the little synchronicities that inspire connections that might not otherwise be made. I'm a person who gets up every day looking for the magic, no matter how small it might be. Magic's always there and it's a universally great reason to get out of bed when compared with all the other more mundane reasons. It also helps me keep my mind open and stay in the moment rather than spending ...more
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Loved the demon bird cover, book was kind of meh.
11/12yo "D" (no one except his mom calls him Dimitri) has had some struggles. Dad is a mysterious, non-existent figure from his past. Mom has recently passed away from breast cancer. D spends a brief time in the foster care system before being taken to live with kindly old Mrs. Martin. But then the crack-addicted baby foster girl comes to live with them and D feels a little overwhelmed. He's just getting into his new school and is accelerating in
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
In New York City, a pre-teen boy named Dmitri loses his mother to cancer, and without any other family, finds himself in foster care. His foster mother seems caring, but she is also parenting a crack-addicted baby, so her attention is divided.

In school, “D” meets a Muslim basketball star Keem when he is asked to tutor him in math. Both boys are enchanted by a young girl, Nyla, who has numerous piercings and an attitude.

These three African-American pre-teens connect and form an odd pack when they
Debra Martin
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I don't usually read young adult books, but decided to take a chance when offered the book by the publisher. Ship of Souls is a short book, only 120 pages in print. The author starts with a good premise. We are introduced to D, aka Dmitri, an 11 year-old boy who has recently lost his mother to cancer, been placed in foster care and starts a new school. D is a good kid, polite to his elders and a math whiz. When he is asked to tutor the school's top basketball player, he meets Keem and then Nyla, ...more
Tim Roast
Aug 31, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Patrick Gahan
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Ship of Souls is an emotionally charged novel that blends the genres of fiction, historical non-fiction, and fantasy. In dealing with real world issues such as cancer, adoption, bullying, racism, drugs, and poverty, this novel not only tugs at the reader’s heart strings but it interweaves many complex issues that children must face on a daily basis. Without sugarcoating the issues, Ship of Souls presents a very down-to-Earth story that is sincere in its believability. The uniqueness of the trio ...more
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Zetta Elliott created a wonderful read that carries readers into a world filed with magic and history. Ship of Souls takes place in New York and follows the life of a boy named Dmitri, otherwise known as “D”, who is in and out of foster care due to the sudden loss of his mother. D is a bright student who excels in mathematics and befriends a basketball player named Keem and a unique girl with piercings named Nyla. While walking in the park one day, D finds an injured bird, named Nuru, who speaks ...more
Sarah Falvey
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Ship of Souls fully explores the theme of belonging. This urban fantasy is a must-read for anyone looking for his or her place in the world. Thoughtfully written, the first-person text takes the reader through a mystical world woven into our own. Elliott also cleverly intersperses history from the American Revolution and contemporary issues of labeling and terrorism. The elements of the text that have nothing to do with the fantasy world have an honest quality about them that will likely resonat ...more
Jo Bennie
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: e
When D's only parent, his mother, dies of cancer he is left alone in the world but is fostered by elderly Mrs Martin. However, his temporary haven is shattered by Mrs Martin taking in baby Mercy, born as addicted to crack cocaine as her mother and screaming in withdrawal. And he has been tasked at school to tutor the intimidating basketball jock Hakeem. As D escapes to the nearby park he believes he's finally lost his mind, a bird is speaking to him. But this is no mental breakdown, it is the em ...more
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I’m a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. I was born and raised in Canada, but have lived in the US for 20 years. I earned my PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003; I have taught at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, Hunter College, Bard High School Early College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. My poetry ...more
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