Gary Soto was awarded a Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature in 1999. He lives in California
Soto's latest short-story collection offers readers glimpses into the daily lives of young teens.
An inexperienced middle-school honor student's eye-opening visit to a liberal-arts college starts the collection, and a far less naïve young girl has an equally revealing visit to a friend's house in the 13th and final tale. Read full book review >
Soto (Fearless Fernie, p. 52, etc.) offers a complex take on the "giving is better than receiving" sentiment in this gentle lesson on what really matters. Eight-year-old Rigo's resentment builds over the preponderance of hand-me-down clothes he inherits from his three older brothers until he can't take it anymore and he throws the latest worn-out batch into the garbage can and pleads for something brand new. Sure enough, new loafers are in the works, but even they turn out to be a problem. Finally he gives them to his Uncle Celso, and this act signals a distinct and empowering shift in Rigo. For the first time, Rigo sees himself as part of the giving community, an important contributor to the family's well being. He also learns about pride, and how having pride in who you are can be a useful tool in confronting fear. When his Uncle Celso, overjoyed at Rigo's generosity, gives Rigo a couple of Mexican pennies and notes the coins are even older than he is, Rigo plans to save them for the slots of new loafers if he ever gets any. But the pennies also provide him a new source of strength and courage when it comes to his dealings with the world outside his family. Sprinkled throughout the text are italicized words in Spanish, accompanied by a back-page glossary, a subtle reinforcement of the story's setting. Widener's (The Christmas Cobwebs, 2001, etc.) lively illustrations of Rigo and his family establish a warm, inviting tone, exuding friendliness without being cliché-ridden or saccharine-coated. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. Read full book review >
Two Latino fourth-graders scramble to raise money when one accidently breaks a local punk's portable CD player. Readers who met Rudy and Alex in Soto's Pool Party (1993) will find that they still charge off to find out the hard way whether their schemes are practical or not, loyally helping each other out of jams, and elevating the conversation like true 10-year-olds (``Rudy, you ever notice that when you drink milk, you sweat water?''). Read full book review >
Poet and YA author Soto rounds up the usual suspects—along with some impressive new voices—in what may be the best Chicano short fiction anthology to date. Sandra Cisneros is represented with ``One Holy Night'' from her widely read collection Woman Hollering Creek (1991); Alberto Alvaro R°os's ``The Waltz of the Fat Man'' was anthologized in last year's Mirrors Beneath the Earth (ed. Read full book review >