NOT ONE DAMSEL IN DISTRESS

WORLD FOLKTALES FOR STRONG GIRLS

In her introduction, the author states that the 13 stories in this book “have always been around, hidden away in the back storeroom of folklore.” No more. Yolen has managed to present these legends and folktales as originally told, with their spunky, canny, and courageous girls and women heroes as feisty and funny as they were to the people of their time. The tales come from all over the world; some of their protagonists are well-known, such as Greece’s Atalanta the Huntress, but many others have been either lost over time or distorted in one way or another to make them palatable to readers who refused to recognize that women were fully capable human beings. There’s Nana Miriam of Niger, who uses the powerful potions in her juju bag to save her father from a vicious hippopotamus. Or China’s Li Chi, who refuses to be sacrificed to the serpent who has terrorized her village and instead uses her wits, a snake-hunting dog, and a sharp sword to slay the creature. Then there’s England’s Molly Whuppie, who serves her king by outwitting a giant and ends up a queen, in a rollickingly funny story that’s only equaled by the Ozark tale of Pretty Penny, who uses her wits to save her father’s money and make a lot more from the highway thief who tries to rob her. There are many more, all of them splendidly told by an author who can not only spin a mean folktale, but makes some nice subtle points in doing so. The book is strengthened even more by Yolen’s extensive “Notes on the Stories” and an excellent bibliography for those who want more, making it a useful reference tool for classroom or library. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202047-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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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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