ELEVEN KIDS, ONE SUMMER

An episodic story uniting the big, alphabetically named family in Ten Kids, No Pets (1988) with the leads from Just a Summer Romance (1987). The Rossos are looking forward to their summer rental on Fire Island—a rambling old house on the beach. Abbie, the responsible eldest, is the focus of the first chapter as she worries about the complications of train travel with so many kids. In the ten subsequent chapters, each of the others takes center stage—little number ten, Janthina, gets a makeover on a movie set; solitary Calandra hopes and fears that the house next door is haunted; Ira seems to have Lyme disease, but quickly recovers; Faustine becomes a vegetarian and tries to convert her family—with the result that, though the chapters aren't independent stories, the characters perform so briefly that there's little chance to know them. Meanwhile, the hustle and bustle of a large family and its many interconnections are glimpsed but not really explored, despite an overabundance of details of daily life. The children do have walk-on roles in each other's stories, thus tidying up loose ends from their own. Easily read fare, sure to please fans of Martin's popular ``Babysitters'' books. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8234-0912-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1991

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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