Although this tale is somewhat disjointed, its tender bonhomie compensates. A boy, Daniel, happens across an enormous pink slipper at the foot of a huge mango tree. He clambers in and is hoisted aloft, where he meets Mangaboom—all 19 feet and 682 pounds of her—who tells him of her favorite pastimes: skinny-dipping and turning cartwheels. Two pieces of mail arrive with Daniel: an invitation to her aunt's for tea with three bachelor giants, and a love letter from someone named Grizwaldo. He begs Mangaboom to write, but before she can retrieve his address on the envelope, her goat eats it up. Crestfallen, Mangaboom heads off with Daniel to tea, where her suitors turn out to be dreadful rubes. Happily for Mangaboom, but unhappily for any potential drama surrounding the lost address, Grizwaldo writes the next day, saying he'll drop by that evening. Daniel takes his leave, though not without getting a glimpse of Grizwaldo (who looks a great deal like a giant Daniel). On the saucily suggestive last page, it looks as though they'll go skinny-dipping that night. Snippets of Spanish give this story an exotic air, and the affection the storyteller has for her characters is evident, even though a plot is not. Lobel's gouaches give a heroic touch to the proceedings, with Mangaboom's colossalness often bleeding right off the page. (Picture book. 5+)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-12956-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will 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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