SIX WORDS, MANY TURTLES, AND THREE DAYS IN HONG KONG

A weekend in the life of a Chinese girl in Hong Kong is the subject of this photo-essay from McMahon (Chi-Hoon, 1993), who does a good job of drawing universal parallels and regional distinctions. Eight-year-old Tsz Yan's school day may seem orderly and rigorous, but familiar faces—Minnie Mouse, Garfield—make appearances, allowing US readers to identify immediately. The 1998 fusion with China looms, leading to Tsz Yan's sensible musings—``Will Hong Kong still be itself when it becomes part of something so big?'' Then it is on to after-school daycare and homework—always homework—before her mother comes home from her day job and Dad returns from China, where he toils all week, for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are a buffet of Hong Kong pleasures: feeding bread to the turtles, a visit to the Ocean Park amusement complex, a ferry ride to Kowloon, a snack at McDonald's, a breakfast of dim sum, cousins watching Jackie Chan on television, family gatherings. Through it all, Tsz Yan saws away at her homework, mostly English words that she neatly ties in to the cultural stew of Hong Kong. The book is an excellent slice of living theater—with the text rolling along, the full- color photographs sharp, the colors and array of sights blinding, and the mood disarmingly matter-of-fact and authentic. (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-68621-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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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TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Tom†s Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tom†s likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tom†s finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tom†s reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tom†s's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Col¢n's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-80401-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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