GET READY FOR GABÍ

A CRAZY MIXED-UP SPANGLISH DAY

A third-grader of Puerto Rican descent, Gabi (the accent comes later) speaks Spanish at home and English at school. Her mother hates even the slightest hint of Spanglish—the mixing of Spanish and English—but as pressures mount at school and Gabi finds it difficult not to lose her temper at Johnny, her classmate and nemesis, it seems she can do nothing but speak Spanglish. Lightweight, but firmly focused on the everyday trials and tribulations of the spunky Gabi—and told through her voice—this will appeal to lots of girls, especially Latinas, who are ready to move out of beginning readers and into their own chapter books. Both sentences and paragraphs are short and direct, and Gabi’s narration includes plenty of kid-friendly dialogue, sometimes in Spanish or Spanglish, all of which is explained within the tale. Coupled with the sheer exuberance of Gabi’s family, the narrative voice may have some crying “stereotype,” but a truer comparison would be with sitcoms such as George López and The Brothers García. Cepeda, who also teamed with Montes on the picture-book folktale Juan Bobo Goes to Work (2001), here provides numerous black-and-white line illustrations, scattered throughout and often worked into the text block. Gabi’s almost triangular haircut—reminiscent of an Egyptian sphinx’s headdress—and the gleeful facial expressions of Johnny and Gabi’s little brother Miguelito add to the generally “hyper” feeling of the story itself. A glossary of Spanish terms is included. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-439-51710-9

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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