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While the concluding author’s note provides explication of some of these elements, some readers may not stick it out.

In Marsden’s latest tale of cross-cultural friendship, a modern Mayan girl fights to protect her rural Mexican village from encroaching development.

Nine-year-old Rosalba Nicho lives a peaceful life with her parents and siblings in San Martín. Everything changes when she becomes friends with 8-year-old Alicia, a light-haired, green-eyed ladina from Mexico City. Camping nearby while her father works to preserve the local frog population, Alicia dominates most conversations and the friendship in general, establishing a problematic colonizer motif that runs throughout the novel. Soon, government workers inexplicability start bulldozing a road to San Martín, and more frogs begin to die. The author intersperses these third-person chapters with a mystical first-person narrative, following the life of a young male seer named Xunko in 600 C.E. The two narratives finally connect when Xunko begins visiting Rosalba’s dreams, showing her ways to save her village. Unfortunately, with the exception of Rosalba and Xunko, most of the Mayan characters appear petty, ignorant and/or violent. The importance of Mayan weaving and the use of the Popol Vuh add authenticity, yet the intended audience may be overwhelmed by the dual narratives, the environmental aspects, brief references to the Zapatistas and the (unfortunate) inclusion of the Mayan 2012 "apocalypse" prophecy.

While the concluding author’s note provides explication of some of these elements, some readers may not stick it out. (Spanish/Mayan glossary) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4820-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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From the Swindle series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Griffin Bing is “the man with the plan.” If something needs doing, Griffin carefully plans a fix and his best friend Ben usually gets roped in as assistant. When the town council ignores his plan for a skate park on the grounds of the soon-to-be demolished Rockford House, Griffin plans a camp-out in the house. While there, he discovers a rare Babe Ruth baseball card. His family’s money worries are suddenly a thing of the past, until unscrupulous collectables dealer S. Wendell Palomino swindles him. Griffin and Ben plan to snatch the card back with a little help. Pet-lover Savannah whispers the blood-thirsty Doberman. Rock-climber “Pitch” takes care of scaling the house. Budding-actor Logan distracts the nosy neighbor. Computer-expert Melissa hacks Palomino’s e-mail and the house alarm. Little goes according to plan, but everything turns out all right in this improbable but fun romp by the prolific and always entertaining Korman. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-90344-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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