THE TOP 10 WAYS TO RUIN THE FIRST DAY OF 5TH GRADE

Fifth-grader Anthony “Tony Baloney” Madison’s greatest desire is to be on the Late Show with David Letterman. He writes Letterman about his adventures and suggests Top Ten Lists. Tony devises a stupid human trick: jumping rope while standing on a toilet. He gets his foot stuck, and the rescue squad has to come free him. He devises a stupid pet trick involving his dog Meatball, a blindfold, and a trampoline. Meatball ends up in the fish tank. Tony mimics every crazy stunt he sees Letterman’s guests pull until he finally grabs national attention by disrupting a Colts/Jets game while dressed in a bear suit. The resulting trip to New York to meet his idol goes wackily awry. While Tony’s exploits might sound entertaining, their extent and their results, as well as the mild reactions of his friends and parents, will strain the most forgiving reader’s credulity. Readers will wonder why he wasn’t expelled for his first stunt, let alone the third or fourth. In a school where students have nicknames that rhyme their first names with their main character traits—e.g., Crazy Daisy and Mean Dean—Tony Baloney lives up to his name: He and his story are nonsense. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8234-1851-0

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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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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