A fantastical and satisfying romp near the Rio Grande.



A debut graphic novel focuses on a zany family adventure in the American Southwest.

The Meyer brothers take readers to New Mexico in 1949. A mischievous boy named Carlos Lucero loves teasing a local elderly woman. But the woman is not just an average citizen: She is a curandera, or healer. Carlos sees her as an old witch, and he manages to snatch a cookie known as a bizcochito from her home. After Carlos takes a bite of the treat, he is swiftly turned into a calf. Amadeo, the victim’s older brother, and his friend Monree need to figure out how to turn Carlos back into a boy. The first idea is to go to Monree’s grandfather. The man is a shaman, but, unfortunately, he is currently out of town helping a grandson on a vision quest. To make matters worse, the boys realize that the curandera is following them, and she doesn’t seem happy. Her ability to change into different animals only frightens the duo more. The boys make their way back to the Lucero home, where more of the family becomes involved. But how will they manage to save Carlos and battle a woman skilled in magic? Even if it seems unlikely that Carlos will remain a calf forever, the journey to his redemption is full of twists, comedy, and sprinklings of Spanish. The authors provide a helpful glossary at the end that translates the Spanish words like “abuelo” (grandfather) and “cueva” (cave). And the tale’s humor, much like many of the earthy colors used by debut illustrator Hardy throughout the book, comes through strongly. For instance, a large talking rat named José with a fondness for beer, cheese, and dancing tends to steal all the scenes he appears in. In addition, whenever people become creatures, they retain something of their human looks (José has a mustache), and the results are cute and amusing. By contrast, more serious portions can languish. The curandera is given a backstory to explain her cruelness. She mourns a tragic event in her past yet her method of coping seems a little hard to believe even by quirky villain standards. Nevertheless, the narrative never drags and offers plenty of action. There are chases, monsters, and episodes of family bonding galore. There is even room in the end for some sentimentality.   

A fantastical and satisfying romp near the Rio Grande.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73377-301-0

Page Count: 166

Publisher: North Fourth Publications

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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