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This fictionalized tale featuring a real-life hero addresses the contemporary nightmare of child slavery in the second treatment based on the same subject this year (Iqbal, p. 1310). Nadeem toils in a carpet factory, knotting threads on a loom, to pay back a debt incurred by his desperately poor parents. One day, legendary 12-year-old Iqbal Masih marches past the factory urging the child workers to break away from their illegal bondage. Nadeem tries, but his boss shackles him to the loom—probably for years. Only news of Iqbal’s murder inspires Nadeem to try again. He leads the children outside, and an exhilarating illustration shows them in the spacious fresh air. This ending is hopeful, though not fully explained—wouldn’t the boss simply bring them back? Watercolor illustrations focus on figures and faces, emphasizing humanity but giving little sense of the actual factory setup and working conditions. Use alongside other materials to flesh out details. (author’s note, extensive resources) (Picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2010

ISBN: 0-88448-248-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2003

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Though it lacks nuance, still a must-read.

Tyler is the son of generations of Vermont dairy farmers.

Mari is the Mexican-born daughter of undocumented migrant laborers whose mother has vanished in a perilous border crossing. When Tyler’s father is disabled in an accident, the only way the family can afford to keep the farm is by hiring Mari’s family. As Tyler and Mari’s friendship grows, the normal tensions of middle-school boy-girl friendships are complicated by philosophical and political truths. Tyler wonders how he can be a patriot while his family breaks the law. Mari worries about her vanished mother and lives in fear that she will be separated from her American-born sisters if la migra comes. Unashamedly didactic, Alvarez’s novel effectively complicates simple equivalencies between what’s illegal and what’s wrong. Mari’s experience is harrowing, with implied atrocities and immigration raids, but equally full of good people doing the best they can. The two children find hope despite the unhappily realistic conclusions to their troubles, in a story which sees the best in humanity alongside grim realities.

Though it lacks nuance, still a must-read. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85838-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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Using the multiple voices that made Bull Run (1995) so absorbing, Fleischman takes readers to a modern inner-city neighborhood and a different sort of battle, as bit by bit the handful of lima beans an immigrant child plants in an empty lot blossoms into a community garden, tended by a notably diverse group of local residents. It's not an easy victory: Toughened by the experience of putting her children through public school, Leona spends several days relentlessly bulling her way into government offices to get the lot's trash hauled away; others address the lack of readily available water, as well as problems with vandals and midnight dumpers; and though decades of waging peace on a small scale have made Sam an expert diplomat, he's unable to prevent racial and ethnic borders from forming. Still, the garden becomes a place where wounds heal, friendships form, and seeds of change are sown. Readers won't gain any great appreciation for the art and science of gardening from this, but they may come away understanding that people can work side by side despite vastly different motives, attitudes, skills, and cultural backgrounds. It's a worthy idea, accompanied by Pedersen's chapter-heading black-and-white portraits, providing advance information about the participants' races and, here and there, ages. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 11, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-027471-9

Page Count: 69

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997

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