Books by L. King Pérez

Released: Oct. 1, 2007

A time of turbulent change in the United States is echoed in the relationship between best friends Silvy and Mabelee. Brown v. Board of Education has just been adjudicated, and 12-year-old Silvy's small Texas hometown is unsettled. Until then, there was no problem for a white girl and a black girl being best friends. Suddenly, Silvy's family is urging her to make friends with her own kind, although they couch it in vague terms. Mabelee doesn't come around the way she used to and even starts calling her former best friend "Miss Silvy." While Silvy is trying to figure this all out, none of the adults are acting normal and she cannot comprehend why lines are being drawn between the races. Apparently based on personal experience, Pérez's story pulls no punches. She uses contemporary language freely and shows how seemingly "good, Christian" whites turned mean and dangerous. Silvy's father seems not to act or respond to the growing crisis, but he surprises Silvy when he needs to. Ultimately, learning that bravery can come in small but crucial actions is a fundamental lesson for the now-wiser but sadder Silvy. Sure to provoke many on both sides of the political spectrum, this is an honest, heartfelt and truthful depiction of a small Southern town during the '60s. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

Chico, the son of migrant workers, faces many first days in new schools, and today is his first day in third grade as well as his family's first day "in grapes." He's not looking forward to it, partly because he is sometimes picked on by the other students, partly because they don't teach race car driving in school. Mamá points out that everyone has a job and his is school; then makes sure to straighten his back before he leaves the house, a bit of encouragement that comes in handy later, when the dreaded bullying begins. Chico has an additional ace up his sleeve; while he struggles with writing English, he's learned how to add quickly from his experience picking and packing produce. Remembering his mother's straightening and his newly recognized math talent, he stands up to the bullies and wins the respect of his new third-grade peers. He even gets up the courage to befriend the intimidating bus driver, grouchy Old Hooch. Realistic watercolor, colored-pencil, and pastel illustrations excel in conveying Chico's emotions through facial expressions; his slightly sullen countenance as his teacher introduces him gives way to a shy smile as he realizes his seatmate just might be friendly this time. Although a bit didactic and perhaps a bit overly optimistic, Chico's success story is cheering, and will be useful in introducing some of the issues facing migrant kids. (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >