CHINGIS KHAN

Demi describes this handsome but problematic life of the Mongol leader generally known as Genghis Khan as her own ``interpretation...based upon both historical resources and folklore.'' Emphasizing his heroic deeds, genius as a leader, and the sheer magnitude of his empire, she conjures up a warlord to inspire pride, as Diane Stanley did with Shaka, King of the Zulus (1988); like Stanley, she focuses more on the glory than on the gore—the tyrant's horrendous other side. Demi's illustrations are rich with shining gold; they have an elegant simplicity of design and subdued colors suitable to the subject's gravity. The small, simply represented figures, though derived from oriental art, at times seem inappropriately childlike, while the playful camels and horses (especially on the endpapers) are downright coy. Though the book as a whole is beautiful, the style tends to trivialize the subject. Perhaps it's curmudgeonly to complain of the heroic treatment of a national hero; after all, The White Stag (1937) celebrated Attila the Hun, yet won the Newbery. What Demi includes here is fascinating, well-researched, and contains a good many harsh truths. Still, much is omitted, and it's worrisome to present children with such a positive picture of a military leader whose wars were typified by one source as ``ruthless carnage.'' (Biography/Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-8050-1708-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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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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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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