Baz is an excellent thief. She has been since the beginning, when Demi found her as a tiny child and she came to live with him in Fay’s den of child crooks in an (perhaps frustratingly) unspecified urban slum. No one is as good at picking pockets as the innocent-looking team of Baz and Demi, and they’re content to be Fay’s favorite children. When Demi steals a glittering ring from an uptown lady, they fall into a lengthy chain of betrayal and corruption. Spies within their own gang are the least of their problems; the ring belonged to the chief of police’s wife, and both the police and the mob are after them. Trusting anyone is dangerous, but Baz doesn’t want to end up like Fay and Demi, who trust no one. Lavish details of the hellish environment, from mud flats that drown the unwary to the festering garbage mountain on which enslaved children pick trash for the mob, derail the adventure’s forward momentum, slowing it to a crawl. What ought to be a thrilling chase drags, despite the charming, streetwise heroine. (Fiction. 12-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-56330-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Chelsea Green

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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In an earnest, preachy tale from Lee (Night of the Chupacabras, 1998, etc.), a Korean-American seventh grader copes with poor teaching in school and rising tension at home. Two years after moving to Minnesota, Jin-Ha’s mother is still trapped in the family apartment, so afraid to attempt English that she’s unable to shop without a translator, and so isolated that she doesn’t know what the F at the top of Jin-Ha’s math test means. Driven by guilt and humiliation, Jin-Ha resolves to study harder; she gets no help from her lazy, inflexible, insensitive (“You Japanese are going to beat our butts”) teacher, but finds an unexpected ally in hunky classmate Grant Hartwig. In public, he calls her a “friggin’ jap math geek,” justifying himself by saying, “That’s how guys are. You have to prove that you can dish it out and take it, too,” but in private he morphs into a patient math tutor. To compound Jin-Ha’s worries, her father takes to coming home late nearly every night with a vague excuse. The situations are resolved amid a welter of confessions (Jin-Ha’s father is working a second job), stern lectures, and fervent promises, capped by a warm, fuzzy Christmas scene. Although often perceptive, this study in cultural acclimation is weighed down by artificial-sounding dialogue and scarily simplistic characters. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 1999

ISBN: 0-380-97648-X

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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Fascinated with the Hispanic and Native American folktales of his youth, Anaya (The Farolitos of Christmas, 1995, etc.) has compiled ten stories from time-honored oral traditions, including some passed on in corridos, or songs. The tales hold lessons on respect for elders, the importance of the Catholic faith, reverence for the animal world, the role of luck in a man’s life, and whether or not we should attempt to seek immortality. The wide variety of stories demonstrate a mature understanding of life’s trappings and dangers, but retain a healthy sense of humor about the human predicament. C¢rdova’s black-and-white illustrations capture the magic and beliefs expressed by the tales. (b&w illustrations, glossary) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-15078-0

Page Count: 187

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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