THE PRIVATE NOTEBOOK OF KATIE ROBERTS, AGE 11

A hearty look at city girl making a new home on the range. This sequel begins in 1947 where Love You, Soldier (1991) left off. Katie and her widowed mother arrive in Texas from New York City to begin new lives with Sam Gold, a veteran unscathed by the war that claimed Katie's father four years earlier. In the pages of the diary are the ups and downs of a young girl's adjustment to her stepfather, new home, new school, and, just as she is beginning to settle in, the wrenching news that her mother is pregnant. Katie plans to run away to New York City with a classmate and nearly succeeds before being intercepted, to her mingled relief and fury. Hest has dealt with the stepparent-and-new-baby theme in Where in the World Is the Perfect Family? (1989); the immediacy of the diary format makes her latest effort even more effective. The pages are decorated with ``Katie's'' childish drawings and Lamut's trompe l'oeil illustrations of b&w snapshots slipped into the leaves. Today's 11-year-olds may find Katie unsophisticated, but she is totally convincing in the '40s setting. The ending, as she falls head-over-heels in love with her twin baby brothers and accepts Sam's wish to adopt her, further illustrates the theme of the first book: love is risky, but worth it. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-56402-474-1

Page Count: 75

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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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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