LOVE, DAVID

From South Africa, a moving evocation of the life of the ``colored'' under apartheid, based on the childhood of the author's mother. Narrator Anna lives in ``the Kamp''—``a vast stretch of undeveloped land on which people set up makeshift homes from scraps of wood and iron.'' She's old enough for school but must stay home to take care of her baby sister while Mamsie works long hours for her ``madam.'' Dadda, an excellent gardener, is regarded with affection by his wife and daughters despite his violent alcoholic rages, but he's bitterly at odds with his stepson David, whose behavior he hopes to improve with frequent beatings. David is adored by his half-sister and also finds solace with a dog he has rescued from drowning; impelled by the family's grinding poverty and goaded by Dadda's abuse, he also has a secret life of petty thievery and marijuana peddling, which eventually brings social services into play and results in a special boarding school (its nature is not clear) for David, a move to better housing for the family, and school for Anna. Case succeeds admirably in her attempt ``to share a culture with those who do not know about it'': her sharply drawn characters and story of a warmhearted boy responding to his troubles with care for his dog as well as with rebellion are poignantly believable, the setting fully realized. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-67350-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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