FAITH AND THE ELECTRIC DOGS

A joy—an original, uniquely funny first novel that is thought-provoking as well, from a witty ambassador of languages and cultures. The first-person narrator, a little dog (``electric'' is wordplay on Spanish for ``current,'' as well as ``cheap'' and ``no good'') of the streets of Mexico, discovers a willful child, Faith, being harassed by boys. He saves her, and she brings him home where he observes the surroundings. ``I must admit to being a little naive,'' he says about the life of a house dog. ``Contrary to rumors,'' a house dog does not have his own chair at the dinner table, and kibbles are an unwelcome surprise. His point of view is of a worldly, street-wise character who understands many dog languages, several human languages, and a great deal about the transplanted girl from San Francisco who dislikes Mexico and wants to return ``home home'' so much that she designs a rocket to transport the two of them there. The adventures proceed at a fast clip, always accompanied by the priceless comments of the electric dog. The design of the book includes Jennings's chapter decorations in black-and-white and translations in the wide margins for the many Spanish words (and French and Bowwow—whatever comes up) effortlessly introduced into the story. A great read-aloud, y un libro perfecto! (glossary) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-590-69768-4

Page Count: 146

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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