CÉSAR

¡SÍ, SE PUEDE! YES, WE CAN!

Aimed at slightly older children than Kathleen Krull’s Harvesting Hope (2003), this powerful biography in poems relates incidents in the life of César Chávez with insight and a sense of wonder. “Who could tell / that he with a soft pan dulce voice, / hair the color of mesquite, / and downcast, Aztec eyes, / would have the courage to speak up / for the campesinos.” At the time of his death, César did not own a car and had never owned a house. The final words of the last poem are Chávez’s own, and a fitting tribute: “True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.” The numerous Spanish phrases will make reading aloud a challenge for non-Spanish speakers, but learning to do so is worth the effort. Backmatter includes notes, a chronology, a list of sources, a prose narrative, a selection from Chávez’s own words, and an extensive glossary. Diaz’s softly beautiful and illuminating illustrations add much to this already rich celebration of César’s life and legacy. (Poetry/biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7614-5172-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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THE BUG IN TEACHER'S COFFEE

AND OTHER SCHOOL POEMS

PLB 0-06-027940-0 Dakos’s collection of 23 poems from the perspective of items found at school satisfies the I Can Read requirements of simplicity and word repetition, but may not lure beginning readers back for a second time. The material is uninspiring: The school’s front door says, “Keep me shut,/I have the flu,/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Keep me shut,/I have the flu.” A book sings “Happy Birthday” to a ruler, then sings “Happy Unbirthday” when the ruler says that it is not its birthday. Also appearing are a couple of clever items—one on a kidnapped pencil and another on a comb pulling hazardous duty—along with some typographic elements that amiably convey the idea that words are malleable; Reed’s illustrations possess geniality and character, making some inanimate objects very personable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027939-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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