I-KNOW-NOT-WHAT, I-KNOW-NOT-WHERE

A RUSSIAN TALE

Good-hearted Frol, the cruel czar's archer, defeats his master with the help of enchanted dove-maiden Frolya. Determined to rid himself of Frol and possess Frolya, the czar sends him on three impossible missions; the last is to bring back I-Know-Not-What from I-Know-Not-Where. In an excellent note, Kimmel cites Charles Downing's Russian Tales and Legends (1956) as his source; he elaborates Downing's tale of abusive power and magical redress into an eight-chapter epic, freely adding themes and symbols from other tales (golden eggs, Water of Life, a trio of giants, a flying ship, an invincible sword) to such intriguing original components as an earlier czar's punishment in the afterworld, a ferocious giant cat, Baba Yaga in a mellow mood, and the invisible servant Nobody. He even quotes Emily Dickinson (``I'm Nobody. Who are you?''). His most significant change is to move his hero into the arena of personal valor: courage alone carries Frol over the slippery bridge above the River of Fire. Kimmel also mitigates the tale's violence, though curiously—unlike Downing's—his czar, unrepentant, is killed in the end. Sauber's eight elegantly detailed and bordered paintings glow with colors ranging from deep and mysterious shades to the brash hues of Russian folk art. A creative and spirited retelling, resulting in a richly satisfying tale of high drama; for a more sophisticated audience than Diane Wolkstein's picture book version (Oom Razoom, 1991). (Folklore. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-8234-1020-X

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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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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