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BOYS AT WORK by Gary Soto


by Gary Soto & illustrated by Robert Casilla

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-32048-5
Publisher: Delacorte

Two Latino fourth-graders scramble to raise money when one accidently breaks a local punk's portable CD player. Readers who met Rudy and Alex in Soto's Pool Party (1993) will find that they still charge off to find out the hard way whether their schemes are practical or not, loyally helping each other out of jams, and elevating the conversation like true 10-year-olds (``Rudy, you ever notice that when you drink milk, you sweat water?''). The author sprinkles his dialogue with Spanish exclamations and slang (translated or clear from context), and surrounds Rudy with relatives both sympathetic and not. As in most of his books, Soto creates a community that will be familiar to readers of any ethnic background that also retains its distinctive flavor. Casilla renders young people with fair realism, reinforcing this sense of familiarity in a handful of b&w scenes; the punks look less scary than the boys' imaginations had painted them—just taller neighborhood kids in the same jeans and t-shirts. After a tense but nonviolent climax, this story comes to its comfortable close, an everyday sort of story punctuated by moments of high and low comedy. (Fiction. 9-11)