Once again, this team (Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Castle, 1994, etc.) invite readers on a fabulous tour that leads from an ``exploded'' view of the human body (all anatomy, skin, clothes, and accessories clearly visible in systematic drawings in which the mustache hovers in front of skin, the skin hovers in front of muscle and bone, etc.), through the geology of the Grand Canyon, and up into the proposed US-Soviet space station. Each of the dozen full-color drawings, whether a two-page spread or an overleaf, is loaded with enough minute, engrossingly accurate detail to deserve repeated viewings. Hundreds of captions explain the construction and function of each of the structure's components: Readers learn not only which countries assembled the space station's various modules, but their separate purposes as well. With an elegance worthy of the best engineering, Biesty demonstrates how a windmill grinds grain into flour; how Hollywood film studios play with perspective in an effort to maximize floor space; and the elaborate system of hydraulics necessary to lift London's famous Tower Bridge. Most importantly, however, these drawings capture their subjects on a scale children will adore: The windmill has ten mice, the steam engine's workers carry their sandwiches underneath their hats, and astronauts on the space station use a zero-gee toilet. These amusing details add another dimension of realism and humanity to the work. A fun-filled ride and fact-packed frolic for the whole family. (index) (Picture book. 6+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-7894-1024-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997


From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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