THE KING, THE PRINCESS, AND THE TINKER

The author of Stargone John (1990), a perceptive, realistic story about a misunderstood 19th-century boy, offers an old- fashioned fantasy about a king who is so greedy that he devotes himself to admiring the treasures he keeps in his solitary tower- -and about the warm-hearted tinker whose simple wisdom has the effect of reuniting the king with his daughter, the Princess Sweet Rosilla. For years, nobody has been allowed to look at King John, not even his children; only sensible Rosilla has secretly disobeyed. Then as King John is taking one of his rare forays to view his kingdom, his crown falls off when his coach hits a bump; the tinker picks it up, thinking it must be an odd sort of pot, and is soon mistaken for the king—everyone has forgotten what he looks like. Though both tell the truth, no one knows what to believe; the eldest prince receives the crown, leaving former King John to enjoy getting acquainted with Rosilla, who knows perfectly well who he is. The obvious message about true worth is nicely integrated into a competently written, briskly moving tale with engaging characters and pleasing if mild humor. It doesn't have the rich texture or marvelous humor of E. Nesbit's stories, but it could start readers in her direction. An entertaining, easily read chapter book. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8050-1773-9

Page Count: 70

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1992

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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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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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