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MAMA'S BIRTHDAY SURPRISE by Elizabeth Spurr

MAMA'S BIRTHDAY SURPRISE

By Elizabeth Spurr (Author) , Felipe Davalos (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-7868-0265-0
Publisher: Hyperion

 This entry in the Chapters series is an amiable story without much sticking power. Mam†, raising three children on her own in America, has always told stories about their Uncle CÇsar, a rich Mexican landowner who is to come to their rescue should they ever need him. Although their life is hard, and there are times when it really does seem like they need him, Mam† won't ask for help. When the children secretly put together enough money for a family visit to meet CÇsar, they find that their mother hasn't told them the whole truth. Spurr (The Long, Long Letter, p. 233) includes a wonderful twist to her story--CÇsar Gonzales is as important as Mam† says he is but has been dead for years, while his hacienda has become a famous tourist stop--but flat characterizations distract from the poignancy of Mam†'s memories (and her need to invent back-up help so that the children will feel safe in the worst times). The revelation about the uncle comes in clumsy dialogue that instead of protracting the suspense, dilutes it. (b&w illustrations, not seen, glossary) (Fiction. 8-10)