Other authors have asked children to consider what they'll do with their lives, but never like this. ``You were not. Now you is...And in between eating chocolate licorice and jumping on a pogo stick, you will find your job. Your work. Your it. Your you. It's true.'' With less interest in work's necessity than in its infinite variety and satisfactions, Kalman—in her own inimitable fashion- -presents a gallery of neighborhood characters—among them, Leopold Leitner, office peddler, who always has something different in his suitcase; cousin Harriet's father Eddie, who sits in a wheelchair at the piano and composes songs like the famous ``Bubba Bubba Bubba''; a sister who also sits at the piano, playing ``FÅr Elise'' until ``even the fruit on the table was screaming for her to stop''; cousin Venezuela Katz the astronomer; and Lois Mungay, who fights fires because she hates them, and ``takes twelve seconds from bed to truck'' when the alarm sounds. Kalman's frenzied, relentlessly verbal stream-of-consciousness is enhanced by the large blocks of boldface in a dazzling array of sophisticated colors harmonizing with the high-energy, superficially childlike art (flat figures, deceptively random-seeming compositions, large brush strokes, bright, contrasting colors), offering a series of wonderfully individual portraits. A tour de force, less self- indulgent (and less hilarious) than her ``Max'' books, and with broader appeal. (Picture book. 8+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-85201-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1993

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From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)



Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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