RED, WHITE, BLUE, AND UNCLE WHO?

THE STORIES BEHIND SOME OF AMERICA’S PATRIOTIC SYMBOLS

How well do you know your country? From the better-known tale of the Statue of Liberty, to the less familiar story of the Great Seal, the meaning and history behind 17 patriotic sites and symbols are explored in depth. Readers will learn the amazing history behind the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the mystery of that strange pyramid on the back of a one-dollar bill will finally be resolved. The national flag once had as many as 20 stripes and the White House was not originally intended to be white. Find out why there is an oval room in the White House, and discover how several of the monuments in the nation’s capital came to be. Bateman (A Plump and Perky Turkey, p. 1207, etc.) keeps interest high with well-written and easy to understand short chapters about each patriotic symbol. She chooses her facts well and doesn’t get bogged down with too much detail. But readers will miss an introduction to the book—it just jumps right into the first chapter about the American Flag. Also, a map of Washington D.C. would be a welcome addition, since eight of the symbols are located there. O’Brien’s (More True Lies, p. 592, etc.) humorous cartoon drawings add detail to the descriptions in the text, and are useful in helping the reader visualize the context of the symbol. However, the people in his drawings are rather eerie, with white eyes heavily circled in black, reminiscent of the Little Orphan Annie cartoons. Still, this is a must for elementary grades studying America’s early years. (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1285-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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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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