CINNAMON GIRL

LETTERS FOUND INSIDE A CEREAL BOX

Yolanda’s grasp on reality crumbles along with the World Trade Center after her beloved Uncle DJ is injured on September 11. Still coping with a tragic incident from her past in Iowa, Yolanda’s fear after this new calamity is palpable through the poetry used as the vehicle to tell her story. The bond between Yolanda and her uncle is portrayed through loving letters, which she keeps in an empty cereal box and rereads as Uncle DJ struggles for his life. Likening the ash blanketing the city to the voices of lives lost, Yolanda vows to collect the silvery dust in exchange for her uncle’s life. The poetry itself is more complex than those in other verse novels for young adults—particularly due to the many Spanish words and phrases—but the glossary is quite helpful for comprehension. The Puerto Rican flavor of this lyrical, authentic novella will appeal to urban Latinas especially, but anyone touched by the events of September 11 will relate to Yolanda’s story. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-057984-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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HOMELESS BIRD

1893

Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028454-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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