A fastidious woodchuck discovers parenthood to be worse than his wildest imaginings in this benign, if sardonic, animal tale from Seidler (The Wainscott Weasel, 1993, etc.). When Sally Hubble, a poster child for the ``terrible twos,'' is left in a ditch by three of her older siblings, the maternal instincts of Phoebe—the new wife of a woodchuck named Fred—are aroused despite the difference in species; soon the child, dubbed Margaret after Phoebe's mother, is ensconced in the once-spotless burrow, pulling apart glowworm lamps, smashing heirloom furniture, and greedily consuming all the honey, berries, and goat's milk the harried woodchucks can gather. Margaret grows at a great rate, and soon the family finds itself sharing a nearby cave with a squirrel, a skunk, two bats, and a snake, plus Phoebe's coquettish sister Babette and her three offspring. When at last Margaret makes the mistake of stomping on the skunk's tail, her reeking flight into the forest reunites her with her natural parents. Fred, whose relief at her flight is not entirely unmixed, realizes that his attitudes toward parenting have undergone a profound change when Phoebe shortly thereafter gives birth to little Patience. Chubby and disheveled, Margaret towers over her exhausted, dapper minions in Agee's numerous thick- lined, simply drawn cartoons. Advanced readers may perceive an edge beneath the drollery, but it's all in good fun. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-205090-7

Page Count: 165

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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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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A rare venture into contemporary fiction for Bruchac (The Circle of Thanks, p. 1529, etc.), this disappointing tale of a young Mohawk transplanted to Brooklyn, N.Y., is overstuffed with plotlines, lectures, and cultural information. Danny Bigtree gets jeers, or the cold shoulder, from his fourth-grade classmates, until his ironworker father sits him down to relate—at length- -the story of the great Mohawk peacemaker Aionwahta (Hiawatha), then comes to school to talk about the Iroquois Confederacy and its influence on our country's Founding Fathers. Later, Danny's refusal to tattle when Tyrone, the worst of his tormenters, accidentally hits him in the face with a basketball breaks the ice for good. Two sketchy subplots: Danny runs into an old Seminole friend, who, evidently due to parental neglect, has joined a gang; after dreaming of an eagle falling from a tree, Danny learns that his father has been injured in a construction- site accident. A worthy, well-written novella—but readers cannot be moved by a story that pulls them in so many different directions. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-1918-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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