A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Kenya

A CHILD'S INTRODUCTION TO CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD

Roman (If You Were Me and Lived In…Norway, 2013, etc.) offers a children’s primer of the geography, sports, food and vocabulary that Kenyan kids encounter in their daily lives.

The latest installment in this cultural series—preceded by books on Mexico, France, South Korea and Norway—takes young readers to the African nation of Kenya, where they get a short, engaging lesson on the country’s culture. The opening phrase “If you were me…” helps kids imagine a narrator not much different from themselves. Their Kenyan counterpart lives with their parents (“If you needed your mommy, you would call for Mzazi. When you are speaking to your daddy, you would call him Baba”), buys milk from the market and pays for it “with a shilling,” eats snacks (“samosa, a small triangular pastry filled with meat or vegetables and fried in oil”) and goes to school. The book covers Mombasa Carnival, a large yearly festival, and discusses its importance. It also explains the basics of cricket, a popular sport in Kenya, and the fact that kids usually entertain themselves with handmade toys. Roman’s books are successful since she draws connections between cultures while maintaining a tone that keeps young readers engaged. Colorful illustrations further enhance the text, such as one showing kids playing with cricket bats. A glossary at the end offers a pronunciation key for the unfamiliar words throughout. This series of books would be a natural fit in school classrooms and would also provide a good way for parents to teach their own kids about the cultures, languages and geography of different countries. This installment is a quick read that may help kids see the similarities between themselves and their Kenyan peers.

An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481979917

Page Count: 30

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2014

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For families looking for a holiday adventure or parents hoping to improve a child’s behavior, this work may make a good...

THE CHRISTMAS SPRYTE ENCOUNTER

BAD BEHAVIOR

A cranky little girl changes her behavior after a warning from one of Santa’s helpers in this debut rhyming Christmas book.

With bushy red hair and freckles, the narrator—who appears to be age 5 or 6 in the cartoonish images—throws a tantrum to avoid going to the mall on Christmas Eve. But her scheme doesn’t work—and it lands her on Santa’s naughty list. Her grumpy antics are interrupted by Glynt P. Spryte, one of Santa’s Behavioral Elves. He’s been trying to subtly adjust her conduct for months. Now that her deeds have crossed the line, he is paying her a visit. Glynt’s dire warning (no toys!) and his lack of hope that her behavior can improve in time for Christmas give the narrator just the push she needs to clean up her act. “But the best part is this—I LIKE who I’ve become,” she says on the final pages. Crighton’s lines scan well in her series opener, using a vocabulary overly advanced for her narrator’s age. The rhyme scheme and rhythm are reminiscent of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous Christmas poem, though the obvious message may not enthrall mischievous young readers. Glynt is a fun invention: a combination of angry and sorrowful wrapped up in a cowboy outfit. But the uncredited illustrations don’t match the story’s description (he’s called “young” and “handsome” but appears with gray sideburns and a Santa-esque figure).

For families looking for a holiday adventure or parents hoping to improve a child’s behavior, this work may make a good addition to their collections.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947352-87-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: BookBlastPro Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2018

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