The Dormia Trilogy (Houghton Mifflin)

What happens to all those crazy facts, characters, and anecdotes that get cut from my nonfiction stories?  They become fodder for my fantasy books.  Over the past few years, I have worked with my friend, Peter Kujawinski, and written the Dormia trilogy.  This is an epic tale about a hidden kingdom, a twelve year old boy named Alfonso, and the ancient magic of sleep.  The American Library Association's official publication (Booklist) hailed Dormia as "a wonderful intergenerational read" and called it "a strong choice for readers still mourning the end of the Harry Potter books."  VOYA hailed the trilogy as a "hero's tale" written  "in the fine tradition of Tolkien and George Lucas."  The first book, Dormia, came out in 2009; the second book, World's End, in 2011; and the third book, The Shadow Tree, in 2013.  Read more below and also visit Dormia's official website (

Alfonso Perplexon is an unusual sleeper. He climbs trees, raises falcons, even shoots deadly accurate arrows, all in his sleep. No one can figure out why.  Then one evening a man arrives at Alfonso’s door, claiming to be Alfonso’s long-lost uncle Hill. This uncle tells a fantastical tale: Alfonso’s ancestors hail from Dormia—an ancient kingdom of gifted sleepers—which is hidden in the snowy peaks of the Ural Mountains. According to Hill, Dormia exists thanks to a tree known as the Founding Tree, with roots that pump life into the frozen valley. But the Founding Tree is now dying, and in a matter of days, Dormia faces an icy apocalypse.

Dormia's salvation lies with the Great Sleeper, who possesses the special powers to enter a sleep trance and grow a new Founding Tree. Hill suspects that Alfonso is just such a person. In fact, Alfonso’s sleeping-self has already hatched this tree. Now the question is: Can Alfonso and his uncle deliver it in time? They must hurry, but they also must be careful not to be followed by Dormia’s age-old enemy, the Dragoonya, who are always hunting for one of the secret entryways into Dormia.

Alfonso agrees to take the tree to Dormia, and thus begins one of the greatest adventures a twelve-year-old boy could ever wish for.

Ever since returning from Dormia, Alfonso has enjoyed sleeping in a bed like a normal person. No more waking up at the top of a tree or the edge of a cliff. In fact, no sleepwalking at all. But then, while visiting France on a class trip, Alfonso feels that strange and familiar pull of sleep. Upon waking, he finds himself in the belly of a ship headed to Egypt. In his backpack are a few old books and a vial of medicine he stole while asleep. Something is calling Alfonso back to Dormia. Perhaps it’s the Founding Tree? Or perhaps it's the man he sees in his dreams—the one who looks just like his deceased father? Whatever it is, Alfonso is powerless to resist.
Storytellers Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski take Alfonso on another fantastical quest to Dormia—and beyond—to a vast underground world that holds the answer to a terrifying message: Let me tell you of a dark shadow tree and the world's end.

In this long-awaited finale to the Dormia trilogy, the dreaded nursery rhyme comes to life at last as a “dark shadow tree” threatens to cause the “world’s end.” And who will stop it?  An ancient prophecy states that the tree can be destroyed, but the price must be paid in blood, and whoever tries faces certain death. Nonetheless, a hero must journey northward, across the great polar expanse, to Dargora – the mythical city built of ice and human bones – and make the sacrifice before it’s too late. All hope rests with a hooded girl, trudging her way through miles of desolate land. She walks slowly, carefully, methodically. Every so often, she stops to listen. She senses that she is being followed, but she is more concerned with the contents of her backpack. Nestled inside is a newborn baby, and he must be protected. He is all that matters. Soon the world will be as lifeless as the ground she is walking on, and only her charge can change the course of fate.