COMFORT CREEK

A novel that begins with a lighthearted look at three sisters adjusting to a totally new life evolves into a sadly realistic story about economic dislocation and its effects on individuals, families, and communities. Although her mother left the family for a career, Quinnella Ellerbee, 10, finds life in a small Florida mining company town pleasant enough. When the company is ready to sell off the Ellerbee home, Quinn's father, Pa-Daddy, scrapes up enough cash to make a down payment on it and relocate it to a swampy lot he inherited. The site is a horror to Quinn and her sisters; they are without plumbing, electricity, telephone, or television. When Pa-Daddy loses his job, the only solution is for him to take a job with Quinn's great-grandmother, Nanny Jo. He turns it down. When word comes that a new mining company is setting up shop, it divides the town, as well as Quinn's family. To Pa- Daddy it means a job; to Nanny Jo it means losing her property. Pa-Daddy is nearly killed in a violent confrontation over the new company; Quinn has to deal with her guilt at her part in her dad's injury. McDonald (Homebody, 1991, etc.) has created unforgettable characters in a powerful tale; the setting is authentically evoked while the economic debate could be right out of the headlines of Anytown, USA. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-385-32232-1

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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