Dillon, Dillon

Published August 2002

What kind of parents would name their child Dillon Dillon?

For his tenth birthday, Dillon’s parents give him a red rowboat with his name painted on the stern: Dillon Dillon. Why did his parents give him a name like that? To Dillon, it seems like the right time to find out. The truth alters everything Dillon has ever known or felt about himself and his family. But with the rowboat Dillon finds a new freedom as he embarks on a journey that takes him back to his beginnings. His discovery of an island and his memorable encounters with a pair of nesting loons bring him face-to-face with the magic and wonder of life. And though he cannot decipher all its mysteries, Dillon acquires, through these legendary birds, an understanding and acceptance of the world and his place in it.

In a powerful story full of questions, Kate Banks creates a character full of hope and courage. He lets us know what he is thinking – and it’s this inner dialogue that we respond to, his constant bewilderment at the way things are that makes us love Dillon Dillon, from his crazy name to his tenacious spirit.

  • Published in Hardcover August 2002 and Paperback April 2005.

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School Library Journal

For as long as he can remember, Dillon wondered, “What kind of parents would name their child Dillon Dillon?- Parents who had forgotten that a name was the first thing you wore against your raw naked skin?- Dillon’s parents were smart.- They would not do a thing like that. Not on purpose.” He turns 10 on the family’s annual summer vacation at the lake and feels bold enough to ask about his name. He discovers that his birth parents, his dad’s sister and brother-in-law, died in a plane accident when he was 18 months old. He had been named Dillon McDermott and when he was adopted, his parents gave him their last name: Dillon. As the youngster comes to terms with this new reality, he becomes fascinated by a loon and her mate that nest in one of his sneakers on a nearby island. Soon after their chick hatches, he realizes that both parent birds have been shot and he wonders how the orphan will survive, until a few days later when he sees that another loon has stepped in to raise the chick. Symbolism that could overwhelm the plot is sensitively tempered by Dillon’s emotional journey, the development of strong secondary characters, and engaging subplots. Reminiscent of Kevin Henkes’s gentle novels, this introspective, somewhat magical story is perfect for all children who wonder about their place in the universe. –Ellen Fader