The Jumping Tree

These lively stories follow Rey Castaneda from sixth through eighth grade in Nuevo Penitas, Texas. One side of Rey’s family lives nearby in Mexico, the other half in Texas, and Rey fits in on both sides of the border. In Nuevo Penitas, he enjoys fooling around with his pals in the barrio; at school, he’s one of the “A list” kids. As Rey begins to cross the border from childhood into manhood, he turns from jokes and games to sense the meaning of work, love, poverty, and grief, and what it means to be a proud Chicano-moments that sometimes propel him to show feelings un hombre should never express. It’s a new territory where Rey longs to follow the example his hardworking, loving father has set for him. From the Hardcover edition.

Behind The Eyes

behindHector Robles has spent his sixteen years in the projects of El Paso trying to stay unnoticed. His peaceful obscurity is shattered when his impulsive brother challenges the leader of a gang called the Discípulos. Suddenly Hector is drawn into their world of violence and hopelessness. When a marker is placed on his life, Hector tries to escape by going away to a school for students with troubled pasts. But it isn’t easy to function when he’s paralyzed by the fear that they’ll find him, even there. Ultimately, by confronting external threats and the internal pain of his memories and mistakes, Hector begins to understand what manhood really means.

The Key To Grandpa’s House

Under a smooth gray rock on the outside windowsill of a home in Chimayo, New Mexico, sits la llave–the key–to the home of Grandpa and Grandma Ortega. The key has always been there for family, friends, and neighbors to use. When Grandma Ortega passes away, some things change and some things stay the same. Grandpa now lives alone, but his life is still filled with loving family and friends and la llave is still resting underneath its rock. Cristina Ortega’s latest children’s story represents life on a northern New Mexico plaza while highlighting the respect, friendship, trust, commitment, and love found in the community. Spanish phrases within the text and detailed illustrations by Cristina’s brother, Luis Armando Ortega, combine to demonstrate to children the importance of these timeless values.Reading level: grade 4 and up

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Featured in Volume I, Issue 2 of WOW Review.

The Whole Sky Full of Stars

Barry can punch anyone hard enough to make them see a whole sky full of stars, though that’s not really his style. Barry and Alby have been friends since the first grade. They’ve always protected one another. When Barry’s pop dies, times are tough and the only thing Barry has of value is his dad’s 1964 Ford Galaxie. Meanwhile Alby’s got himself into big trouble with a cardshark. So he hatches a plan to make money. To help out Barry, but also to help himself. The problem is, Barry could get hurt, and it just might cost Alby their friendship. How much can you ask of a friend?

The Year Of The Ranch (Viking Kestrel Picture Books)

In 1919, Alice McLerran’s grandfather and his family spent a year on a homestead outside of Yuma, Arizona, trying to turn a desert mesa into farmland–and a shack into a home. Funny, moving and filled with fascinating period detail, this is an affectionate account of that year. Full color.

Waynetta and the Cornstalk: A Texas Fairy Tale

Times sure are tough on the ranch, and Waynetta and her ma can use all the luck they can get. But when Waynetta trades their last longhorn for a handful of so-called magic corn, Ma is none too pleased. “The only magic this corn’s got is the disappearin’ kind,” she says, and tosses it out the window. But come the next morning, there’s a giant cornstalk growing up to the sky, and Waynetta climbs it to find her own luck… Helen Ketteman’s Texas-style retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” is full of cowgirl sass. Diane Greenseid’s paintings bring rollicking new life to a familiar tale. The author lives in Florida; the illustrator lives in California.