Recommended for children who enjoy ghost stories and spooky mysteries, with Spanish lessons as an educational bonus.

Perla Garcia and the Mystery of La Llorona, The Weeping Woman

The first installment of Alvarado’s mystery series introduces Perla Garcia, a bilingual little girl and aspiring detective who’s determined to uncover the truth behind a local legend.

Perla and her dog, Valiente (Spanish for “brave”), live in El Barrio de Guadalupe in the south plains of western Texas. As the story’s narrator, she peppers her introduction with Spanish words, including English translations. This method is used sparingly enough that young readers will be likely to remember most terms; Alvarado also reinforces the Spanish terminology with repetition and provides a Spanish/English key in an afterword. Perla and Valiente enjoy solving mysteries, and their first case involves La Llorona (“the weeping woman”), a macabre legend about a mother who lost her babies in a river. (Caretakers and teachers should note that this story may be best for slightly older children, as the premise is rather dark.) According to the legend, the traumatized ghost of La Llorona haunts the river by re-enacting her original tragedy—stealing others’ infants and throwing them in the water. Nowakowski‘s black-and-white illustrations set the tone for this eerie story; however, the cute, cartoonlike illustrations of Perla and her friends serve to lighten the mood. As Perla bravely endeavors to solve the mystery, she learns more through her observations and various clues. Alvarado clearly explains Perla’s deductions so that young readers can make similar inferences and participate in the investigation. The story’s climax occurs when Perla, left alone by the river, believes that she sees the frightful Llorana. However, when she faces the shadowy figure head-on, her fear subsides to empathy when she realizes it was all a misunderstanding. Perla concludes the story by urging readers to investigate their own mysteries. Overall, the book’s subject matter and extensive text will work best for emerging readers.

Recommended for children who enjoy ghost stories and spooky mysteries, with Spanish lessons as an educational bonus.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9840418-8-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Caballo Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2015

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It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 1

In a rousing first novel, already an award-winner in England, Harry is just a baby when his magical parents are done in by Voldemort, a wizard so dastardly other wizards are scared to mention his name.

So Harry is brought up by his mean Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley, and picked on by his horrid cousin Dudley. He knows nothing about his magical birthright until ten years later, when he learns he’s to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is a lot like English boarding school, except that instead of classes in math and grammar, the curriculum features courses in Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry becomes the star player of Quidditch, a sort of mid-air ball game. With the help of his new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry solves a mystery involving a sorcerer’s stone that ultimately takes him to the evil Voldemort. This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons’ eggs hatched on the hearth.

It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-590-35340-3

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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