THE THREAD OF LIFE

TWELVE OLD ITALIAN TALES

Preserve the jacket at all costs, for on it begins a remarkable visual sequence that continues inside: A bearded man in the costume of a Renaissance dandy flourishes a plumed quill pen and an inkwell shaped like a boot; on the title page, three mice are climbing over the boot, sitting near blank parchment; on the verso, a pool of ink is flowing from the overturned boot, and tiny black tracks scurry off the edge of the page. This pictorial mini- drama perfectly symbolizes the richness and mischievous wit of the Italian story tradition, distilled here in 12 of 20 elegant retellings from Vittorini's Old Italian Tales (1958, o.p.). There are fables, pourquoi and cautionary tales, stories of lightning wit and Solomonic wisdom, and cognates of ``Cinderella'' and ``The Three Sillies,'' all warmly couched in the unhurried, slightly formal prose of this truly master storyteller. Utterly distinctive art by GrandPrÇ (who illustrated Jennifer Armstrong's Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat, 1993) encompasses a virtuosic range of effects, from portraits as rigidly posed as the faces on playing cards to an explosion of rats fleeing a cat in a centrifugal double-spread composition. Every character's face is strikingly individual right down to the curl of a lip. Her palette is centered on a seemingly infinite range of shades of purple and orange, from deep blue-violet to pale pinky-lavender, and rich russet to golden peach. Regrettably, the graceful introduction from the 1958 edition, enumerating sources from the Decameron to the late 19th century, has not been reprinted; included is an affectionate forward by Vittorini's son. (Folklore. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-517-59594-X

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1995

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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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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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