HORACE SPLATTLY

THE CUPCAKED CRUSADER #1

Watch out, Captain Underpants, there’s a new superhero on the scene. After his domineering little sister Melody persuades him to sample two gross-looking homemade cupcakes, diminutive fifth-grader Horace discovers that he can fly, and breathe fire to boot. These powers eventually wear off, but not before Horace has time to get used to the dorky purple outfit Melody whips up for him, to take an aerial tour of Blootinville, and after rescuing heartthrob Sara Willow from an oncoming tricycle, to snatch Principal Nosair from the belly of a giant, carnivorous guinea pig created by malicious science teacher Norman Dienow. Though the illustrations are relatively sparse, Gott’s pop-eyed, rubbery-looking figures capture the general sense of goofiness perfectly. Horace returns to save the world from a hypnotist peddling canned Snoodles and Cheaze (“contains over one thousand chemicals, twenty nine preservatives and six kinds of plastic . . .”), as well as to make his own special cupcakes, in Episode #2: When Second Graders Attack (ISBN: 0-525-46866-8, paper: 0-14-230118-3). Necessarily resourceful, since he never knows what temporary super-power the next cupcake will bring, this caped crusader rises hilariously to meet each challenge. Bad guys better stay away from Blootinville from now on—but you know they won’t. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46763-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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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THE YEAR OF MISS AGNES

In 1948 the unorthodox Miss Agnes arrives to teach the children of an Athabascan Indian Village in remote Alaska. Ten-year-old Fred (Fredrika) matter-of-factly narrates this story of how a teacher transformed the school. Miss Agnes’s one-room schoolhouse is a progressive classroom, where the old textbooks are stored away first thing upon her arrival. The children learn to read using handmade books that are about their own village and lives: winter trapping camps, tanning moose hides, fishing, and curing the catch, etc. Math is a lesson on how not to get cheated when selling animal pelts. These young geographers learn about the world on a huge map that covers one whole schoolhouse wall. Fred is pitch-perfect in her observations of the village residents. “Little Pete made a picture of his dad’s trapline cabin . . . He was proud of that picture, I could tell, because he kept making fun of it.” Hill (Winter Camp, 1993, etc.) creates a community of realistically unique adults and children that is rich in the detail of their daily lives. Big Pete is as small and scrappy, as his son Little Pete is huge, gentle, and kind. Fred’s 12-year-old deaf sister, Bokko, has her father’s smile and has never gone to school until Miss Agnes. Charlie-Boy is so physically adept at age 6 that he is the best runner, thrower, and catcher of all the children. These are just a few of the residents in this rural community. The school year is not without tension. Will Bokko continue in school? Will Mama stay angry with Miss Agnes? And most important, who will be their teacher after Miss Agnes leaves? A quiet, yet satisfying account. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82933-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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