Returning readers will rejoice in reconnecting with the effervescent Tía Lola and the rest of the gang, while even readers...

HOW TÍA LOLA SAVED THE SUMMER

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 3

Alvarez returns with another Tía Lola story, replete with adventure and humor.

Revisiting this charming Latino family a couple of months after How Tía Lola Learned to Teach (2010), readers find 11-year-old Miguel Guzman’s aunt creating a magical summer camp for the Fourth of July week, complete with campfires and a nighttime treasure hunt. Víctor Espada is back in Vermont to visit, bringing his three daughters and his dog to stay at the farm. With romance blooming between Víctor and Miguel’s divorced mom, Tía Lola tries to keep the peace between the five children. Meanwhile, outnumbered by the four girls and sidelined from playing baseball by an ankle injury, Miguel is beset by a plethora of worries, while his 9-year-old sister Juanita struggles to feel special among the Espada girls. Each of the children (and a couple of the adults) overcomes a challenge, thanks to Tía Lola’s empathy and wisdom. The author subtly continues thematic elements of acceptance and community from the previous novels and blends Spanish words and phrases into the story, which will appeal to Latino and non-Latino readers alike.

Returning readers will rejoice in reconnecting with the effervescent Tía Lola and the rest of the gang, while even readers new to the tales will want to read more about Vermont’s favorite Dominican aunt. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86727-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?

NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more