The book’s simple style seems to suggest a young adult audience, but the moralistic qualities, as well as a pronounced lack...

Ambriz’s debut is a true-life tale of his coming of age one summer in San Antonio, Texas, set against the backdrop of the city’s roughest neighborhood.

The book begins in ’94 with Ambriz as a successful police officer, then quickly flashes back to the titular summer 20 years earlier. The youthful Ambriz is headed back to San Antonio after spending some time living with relatives in the Rio Grande Valley. Returning to his family home is a risky proposition for the author because of his brother Jimmy—a gang leader that young Jesse very much admires—but Ambriz insists on living with his immediate family again. At home, Jimmy is happy to see his younger brother, but Ambriz’s parents express concern over the pair spending time together. The author assures his parents that he will no longer be involved in the gang-related activities that he had been previously, though he immediately goes out to see the old gang, and, simply by fraternizing, does become involved. Told with no paragraphs and in large print on small pages, the story quickly proceeds to Ambriz also becoming involved with an uppity girl named Mina who has ties to the gang, as well as a few encounters he has with Los Ghost Town Boys, a rival gang. In the end, Ambriz’s violent reaction to a Los Ghost Town Boys attack on his brother prompts his father to send him to live in another neighborhood where Ambriz eventually goes to college and gets his act together. Despite the fact that the story is rife with characters and situations, the author describes them with such vagueness that they appear as little more than passing shadows.

The book’s simple style seems to suggest a young adult audience, but the moralistic qualities, as well as a pronounced lack of image and detail, keep the work from resonating.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4343-2677-5

Page Count: 76

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2010



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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