SUMMER WITCHES

Sarah's discovery that new neighbor Susanna has the makings of a fine friend despite her clunky shoes presages more complex realizations about the unusual woman. Sarah has enjoyed pretending that old Lily is a witch; after all, she's deaf and can't hear the jibes. But after the two girls cement their friendship while transforming the bomb shelter in Sarah's garden into their private place, Sarah finds a child's secret note tucked away there. The girls learn that Lily was the note's author, and that a terrible experience during WW II thwarted her learning to speak; they also get to know her as a productive, caring person. Meanwhile, Lily's sister Rose (the local librarian) has led them to consider the ancient, destructive witch stereotype and contrast it with the reality that Lily exemplifies: a wise woman, skilled with herbs and healing, whose differences may provoke distrust. With admirable skill, Tomlinson weaves her serious theme into an appealing, accessible story with likable, well- individualized characters and a neatly satisfying conclusion: the girls coax Lily into visiting the shelter for the first time since her trauma, thus themselves becoming the sort of witches whose ``magic'' is healing. This fine American debut is introduced by an eminently sensible note explaining some of the British terms and giving readers credit for the ability to figure the others out. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-02-789206-9

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

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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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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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