WINNIE MAE

A beautiful but over-designed book—it has a small, thin typeface that is difficult to read—about a boy and his model planes. As soon as he finishes building one, he starts saving for the next one. And the next one is the Winnie Mae, flown around the world by the intrepid Wiley Post with his eye patch (Post died just recently). The boy is amazed by the instructions (some of which appear on the endpapers), for example, “cut swiftly and decisively but with compassion.” When the Winnie Mae is finished, and he takes it to his favorite tree, he can imagine flying it, and so he does. The boy views his world from above, and marvels at the magic. The story unfolds gracefully to this point, but becomes awkward; when the boy goes to show his plane to some old fishermen, he is stopped by older boys who tear the Winnie Mae to pieces. The boy rejects the explanation that the model plane was only a key to unlocking his imagination, and isn’t helped by his parents, who are too concerned with “work and following rules.” In a forced resolution, the magic of flying is restored to the boy, who sees the goodness of his parents and the fishermen. Splendid illustrations, reminiscent of the work of Chris Van Allsburg, range in size from tiny vignettes to full-page spreads, all in a rich and vivid style. In his first picture book, Lewis uses close-ups, panoramas, edgy angles, and light and dark to grand effect. The book may captivate older boys with dreams of flying, if they can be book-talked past the picture-book format. (Picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-15-201954-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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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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