THE SPANISH SMILE

It's difficult to remember that this island castle, domain of the fanatical tyrant Don Enrique de Cabrillo y Benivides and prison for his beautiful daughter Lucinda, is a contemporary setting. That is the intent of Don Enrique, who won't allow electricity, radio, or newspapers on the island and forbids his daughter to visit the mainland or read anything published in the 20th century. Don Enrique also boasts of having sealed up his wife's lover in her closet (the stone wall he had built still stands, though the wife has fled), and he has imported a succession of pretty young gringas, none of whom has met his standards for a mistress. In the course of the story, after Lucinda has made one unsuccessful attempt to escape the island, and after the eighteenth gringas has been sent off (her offense was playing a modern record on a forbidden player) and a nineteenth, more promising replacement arrives, Lucinda becomes aware that all is hot right: The eighteen rejected gringas have not been sent home but lie in eighteen crystal caskets in the castle cellar vault; and—between importing conquistadors' bones for reburial and ordering a nineteenth casket—Don Enrique is currently plotting to seize a nearby atomic power plant as part of his plan to regain the land from Spain and effect revenge upon the gringos. After all this, Lucinda's shock of recognition comes across as a bit anticlimactic: "At this moment, as I met his gaze, all of the suspicions that had built up in me during the past weeks suddenly came together in one unshakable truth. My father, Don Enrique de Cabrillo y Benivides, was deranged." The melodrama comes to a head when Don Enrique is killed by the deadly bushmaster snake that guards the caskets, and Lucinda, aided by a coast guard cutter and a young anthropologist in her father's employ, must battle Don Enrique's island army and his sinister henchmen to gain control of the island and her own future. Hokey extravaganza with a vengeance, but sure to find its breathless audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 1982

ISBN: 0449700941

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1982

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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