HUBERT INVENTS THE WHEEL

Fifteen-year-old Mesopotamian Hubert will never be the Hauler his father hopes he will. Hubert takes after his mother; he’s a scrawny, brainy inventor. Still, he tries to please his dim-but-well-meaning, sledge-driving Dad since Mom was lost in an unfortunate umbrella incident. Hubert and his onager (small horse with large attitude) Hodja invent in their spare time. Though founded on sound ideas, Hubert’s inventions always go wrong until he invents the wheel and changes society—and puts it in danger from hunky-but-desperate Assyrian leader Ajax. Ever the answer man, Hubert saves his city from Ajax’s plot and all ends well. Anachronism, silly humor and slapstick abound in this history-that-never-was adventure. Some of the humor will shoot over the most astute of the target audience: Vain Queen Eridu likes statues of herself; everyone knows she has an Edifice Complex. However, there are enough laughs and action to keep readers reading, and Shelly’s cartoon illustrations are an asset. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8027-8990-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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WEATHER

Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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