INSTRUCTIONS

A magical, incantatory poem—or perhaps a homily—first published in the Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling collection A Wolf at the Door in 2000 is made new with Vess’s art. It could be instructions for a child, a writer, a newly minted adult or an elder. It strikes immediately at the place where stories live and provides a feast of archetypes. The narrator instructs a furry cat/fox-like creature that walks upright and wears a tunic and boots, of course, to go through the gate he hasn’t seen before (after saying “please”) and walk down the path. Don’t touch the imp knocker on the green door, give the old woman what she asks for and she “will point the way to the castle.” Help those who need it. Don’t be jealous; “diamonds and roses” are as nasty as toads when they fall from your lips, “colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.” Remember your own name, ride the eagle, be polite. The sinuous landscape is peopled with figures readers will recognize, like the Goose Girl and a crowned frog, and those they might not, like trolls and giants and dragons. Roses, trees, land and sea have shimmering life of their own and wind around the words as if made for them, which of course they were. (Picture book. 7 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-196030-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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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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