THE GREAT WALL

A beautiful and informative entry in the Wonders of the World series in which Mann (The Brooklyn Bridge, 1996, not reviewed, etc.) meticulously outlines the building of the Great Wall as well as the thousands of years of conflict that prompted it. Detailed illustrations chronicle the Chinese people's attempts to foil violence by erecting the wall; millions of Chinese lugged stones, day in and day out, for over 200 years, to build a fortress 30 feet high over thousands of miles. A large center fold-out illustrates what an attack on the Great Wall might have looked like in the mountains north of Peking. A timeline illustrates Mongol invasions in the 13th century; a map shows the location of the Great Wall dividing China from the north where the Mongols and the Manchus roamed the steppe. A thoughtful discussion about the life of nomadic tribes on the steppe and their difference from the Chinese people illustrates how cultures distrust and fear one another: ``Order, harmony, and stability were important to the Chinese. They looked down on the nomads and their wandering, warlike ways. They called them barbarians.'' Mann makes thrilling the ironies of the Great Wall: It never fulfilled its purpose of providing safety by exclusion, and contributed to the downfall of the Ming dynasty because of its enormous cost. (maps, chronology, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-9650493-2-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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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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EAGLE SONG

A rare venture into contemporary fiction for Bruchac (The Circle of Thanks, p. 1529, etc.), this disappointing tale of a young Mohawk transplanted to Brooklyn, N.Y., is overstuffed with plotlines, lectures, and cultural information. Danny Bigtree gets jeers, or the cold shoulder, from his fourth-grade classmates, until his ironworker father sits him down to relate—at length- -the story of the great Mohawk peacemaker Aionwahta (Hiawatha), then comes to school to talk about the Iroquois Confederacy and its influence on our country's Founding Fathers. Later, Danny's refusal to tattle when Tyrone, the worst of his tormenters, accidentally hits him in the face with a basketball breaks the ice for good. Two sketchy subplots: Danny runs into an old Seminole friend, who, evidently due to parental neglect, has joined a gang; after dreaming of an eagle falling from a tree, Danny learns that his father has been injured in a construction- site accident. A worthy, well-written novella—but readers cannot be moved by a story that pulls them in so many different directions. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-1918-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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