FIVE PAGES A DAY

A WRITER’S JOURNEY

“I’ve never survived an avalanche or been shipwrecked off the coast of Africa or been abducted by a deranged arsonist. I haven’t traveled back in time or seen a ghost or been arrested for shoplifting.” The prolific Kehret (The Stranger Next Door, p. 415, etc.) has done none of these things, so where does she get her ideas for her fast-paced, well-plotted stories (as school kids ask her all the time)? “I have experienced the emotions that each of these situations creates. I’ve been afraid. I’ve been cold, lonely, and angry.” The author takes readers through the story of her life and shows how she became a writer and where she gets her ideas. When she was ten, she edited Dog Newspaper, her neighborhood paper. Later, she wrote 25-word contest entries and won a trip to Hawaii from a department store and a new car for her entry on why she likes Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. Committed to writing five pages per day, she started writing articles and stories for magazines, books for adults such as Refinishing and Restoring Your Piano, and, finally, books for children. When her first children’s books were published, she knew she had found her niche and no longer wrote for adults. Like her novels, this memoir is written in spare, lively prose with plenty of interesting details, anecdotes, and insights. Her bouts with polio as a child and post-polio syndrome later portray a person determined to enjoy each day and make the most of her talents. Readers will come to know and like this writer through this engaging, genial account and will want to get those novels they haven’t yet read. (Nonfiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8075-8650-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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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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