GREAT WRITERS AND KIDS WRITE MYSTERY STORIES

Sleuths eager for less formulaic company than Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys will enjoy this pulse-quickening second collection of collaborations between writers and children (Great Writers and Kids Write Spooky Stories, 1995, not reviewed). A brief introduction by Morgan and Weinberg defines the elements of a good mystery, as well as its many sub-genres (the cozy, the police procedural, etc.), then the fun begins as bodies start to drop. Sharyn McCrumb and her children choose the unlikely setting of an old-age home for a compelling mystery about the disappearance of a child years ago that continues to haunt one of the elderly patients; readers will love the McCrumbs' wry tone, the crusty but endearing geriatric characters, and the memorable and disturbing ending. A similar sense of the sinister charges Ed and son Joe Gorman's tale of the inexplicable rise to popularity of a high school nerd. Scott Turow and daughter Eve offer more of a fairy tale than a whodunnit—a mystery concerning the human heart. Stuart Kaminsky and daughter Lucy play a varying riff on a family's twisted relations, where a mother's seeming devotion leads to the permanent damage of her son. Whether readers go through these contributions front-to-back or pick and choose among them, the collection provides both an opportunity and a motive for diversion. (Short stories. 8+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-87939-0

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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