MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE STUART LITTLE

A chapter-book picaresque hilariously chronicles one day in the life of almost-fourth-grader Moxy Maxwell. From the heretical title to the short chapters, headed in fine 18th-century style (“In Which Moxy Realizes Her Mother Is Home”), and Fisher’s snort-inducing “documentary” photographs, everything about this offering reaches out to draw the reader in. A slyly intrusive narrator relates the events of August 23 (the day before school begins), occasionally commenting on the action or offering an alternative interpretation as Moxy struggles with Stuart Little, the assigned summer reading she has avoided for months. Moxy is an exuberantly unforgettable character, her reluctance to settle down to read partially explained by her list of 211 Possible Career Paths. Newcomer Gifford surrounds Moxy with equally memorable family and friends, from twin brother Mark, who finished Stuart Little on the first day of summer, to Mom, whose “consequences” loom ever larger as the disastrous day progresses. With its brilliantly accessible application of a usually complex narrative technique, this work represents a significant raising of the bar for writers of chapter books. Technique or no technique, kids will recognize Moxy—and they will love her. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: May 8, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-83915-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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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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