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CHANGING WOMAN AND HER SISTERS

STORIES OF GODDESSES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Why have the power and wisdom of goddesses faded so profoundly from our collective consciousness? What ancient truths might goddess myths unlock for young people today? These questions underpin Tchana’s spare, yet richly detailed retellings. Ten goddesses emerge, from cultures spanning the planet. Macha, a Celtic goddess who runs with horses, curses the feckless people who abet their king’s cruelty toward her. Kuan Yin, though born a princess, longs to fulfill her destiny as a compassionate Buddhist nun. Inanna, Sumerian goddess of agriculture and fertility, visits and magically returns from “the great below.” The pact she strikes with still-clinging demons accounts for Earth’s six months of barrenness, followed by fertile spring. The late Hyman’s 12 luminous paintings incorporate collage for the first time. Her goddesses are stylized, with large eyes and lithe limbs—yet not idealized. In a fascinating note, Hyman explains, for example, that she under-painted Changing Woman’s teenaged face with three others: a baby, mature woman and very old woman. Iconographic imagery embellishes portraits that seem to derive their grace and strength from the very goddesses themselves. A transcendent collaboration that will reward repeated study. (Folklore. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 15, 2006

ISBN: 0-8234-1999-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

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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A YEAR DOWN YONDER

From the Grandma Dowdel series , Vol. 2

Year-round fun.

Set in 1937 during the so-called “Roosevelt recession,” tight times compel Mary Alice, a Chicago girl, to move in with her grandmother, who lives in a tiny Illinois town so behind the times that it doesn’t “even have a picture show.”

This winning sequel takes place several years after A Long Way From Chicago (1998) leaves off, once again introducing the reader to Mary Alice, now 15, and her Grandma Dowdel, an indomitable, idiosyncratic woman who despite her hard-as-nails exterior is able to see her granddaughter with “eyes in the back of her heart.” Peck’s slice-of-life novel doesn’t have much in the way of a sustained plot; it could almost be a series of short stories strung together, but the narrative never flags, and the book, populated with distinctive, soulful characters who run the gamut from crazy to conventional, holds the reader’s interest throughout. And the vignettes, some involving a persnickety Grandma acting nasty while accomplishing a kindness, others in which she deflates an overblown ego or deals with a petty rivalry, are original and wildly funny. The arena may be a small hick town, but the battle for domination over that tiny turf is fierce, and Grandma Dowdel is a canny player for whom losing isn’t an option. The first-person narration is infused with rich, colorful language—“She was skinnier than a toothpick with termites”—and Mary Alice’s shrewd, prickly observations: “Anybody who thinks small towns are friendlier than big cities lives in a big city.”

Year-round fun. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 978-0-8037-2518-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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