BLOWING BUBBLES WITH THE ENEMY

Despite the fact that she's a girl, Bobby Lorimer (newly arrived at Jefferson Middle School) is as determined to play on the boys' basketball team as Coach Briley is to keep her off. She's angry and hurt when her brother Tim compromises loyalty and fair play to keep his own place on the Jaguars; and she's confused by the behavior of budding romantic interest Leslie Crane (of My Brother the Star and Crane's Rebound, both 1991), who resents her plan to try for the team. Rejected by the boys' coach, Bobby (blowing Hubba Bubba to dispel nervous energy) reluctantly turns her superior talents to the recently formed, inadequate girls' team. A school newspaper editorial draws new players and motivates the team until the girls are ready for a grudge match against the Jaguars—which they lose, but triumphantly, determined to compete in the wider female arena and take on the boys again next year. Readers expecting a feminist statement will get a mixed message—the coach's blatant unfairness is accepted with minimal protest, and the girls dissolve in tears after the game—but they'll enjoy Bobby's breezy voice, admire her gumption, and share her confusion over the awkwardness of boy/girl relationships. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-45056-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1993

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

FRINDLE

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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