Watch out, Captain Underpants, there’s a new superhero on the scene. After his domineering little sister Melody persuades him to sample two gross-looking homemade cupcakes, diminutive fifth-grader Horace discovers that he can fly, and breathe fire to boot. These powers eventually wear off, but not before Horace has time to get used to the dorky purple outfit Melody whips up for him, to take an aerial tour of Blootinville, and after rescuing heartthrob Sara Willow from an oncoming tricycle, to snatch Principal Nosair from the belly of a giant, carnivorous guinea pig created by malicious science teacher Norman Dienow. Though the illustrations are relatively sparse, Gott’s pop-eyed, rubbery-looking figures capture the general sense of goofiness perfectly. Horace returns to save the world from a hypnotist peddling canned Snoodles and Cheaze (“contains over one thousand chemicals, twenty nine preservatives and six kinds of plastic . . .”), as well as to make his own special cupcakes, in Episode #2: When Second Graders Attack (ISBN: 0-525-46866-8, paper: 0-14-230118-3). Necessarily resourceful, since he never knows what temporary super-power the next cupcake will bring, this caped crusader rises hilariously to meet each challenge. Bad guys better stay away from Blootinville from now on—but you know they won’t. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46763-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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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