ONE SMALL GARDEN

Nichol (Trunks All Aboard, not reviewed, etc.) wields a glorious simplicity of language to tell a few true stories and impart a lot of natural history about a garden in the city of Toronto. That glorious simplicity is matched by the radiance of Moser’s (Sit, Truman, p. 1026, etc.) watercolors, where every leaf and petal is rendered in exquisite detail and every cat and raccoon face looks familiar. There are 12 chapters, each further subdivided, so that every section is quite brief and some loop back again to complete a story started earlier. Readers meet the raccoon family and the line of ants on the maple tree by the garden gate in the very first chapter, and their fates and histories come round again at the end. They meet the poisoned gardener who sprayed so much that he vanished as well as the pests. They’ll see the mulberry tree roots and learn the difference between annuals and perennials. There’s Butch the cat and his house, Marjorie who climbed a tree, and Sarah who saw a bear. All of these parts make such an attractive package, to be read eagerly by youngsters entranced by growing things (including themselves). Small print might slow some folks down, but it lends itself to being read aloud, so the rhythm of weeding, watering, mowing, and feeding can be heard by more reluctant readers. A lovely, personal look at nature. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-88776-475-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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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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