GO, GO AMERICA

Yaccarino sends readers whose ride aboard Peter Sís’s Train of States (2004) has only whetted an appetite for random facts, quirky laws and roadside attractions on a somewhat more leisurely car trip from Maine to Hawaii. Each state (plus Washington, D.C.) gets a page or spread strewn with snippets of eminently shareable trivia—from horse, camel, car, lizard or bathtub races to festivals highlighting the culinary delights of pickles, frog legs and roadkill. Places range from the hometowns of lawn flamingoes and miniature golf to places where it’s illegal to sleep in boots (Oklahoma) or tease a skunk (Minneapolis). Though Yaccarino provides visual links with small cartoon figures of a tourist family, plus frequent glimpses of Bigfoot, the art really takes a back seat to the multiple sizes, fonts and colors of the text. He doesn’t get all of his facts straight either—the nation’s first subway wasn’t in Boston, and it’s misleading to claim that Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park is “the only place in the world where people can keep the gems they find.” Still, browsers will find this hard to put down, and more systematic sorts will linger over the closing chart of state capitals, mottos and the like. (source list) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-70338-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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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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TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Tom†s Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tom†s likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tom†s finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tom†s reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tom†s's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Col¢n's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-80401-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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