My Sweet Orange Tree

When Zezé grows up, he wants to be a poet in a bow tie. For now the precocious young boy entertains himself by playing clever pranks on the residents of his Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, stunts for which his parents and siblings punish him severely. Lately, with his father out of work, the beatings have become harsher. Zezé’s only solace comes from his time at school, his hours secretly spent singing with a street musician, and the refuge he finds with his precious magical orange tree. When Zezé finally makes a real friend, his life begins to change, opening him up to human tenderness but also wrenching sorrow. Never out of print in Brazil since it was first published in 1968, My Sweet Orange Tree, inspired by the author’s own childhood, has been translated into many languages and has won the hearts of millions of young readers across the globe.

Asphalt Angels

A raw, poignant story of a band of Brazilian street kids who survive — if they can — by their wits alone. Asphalt Angels centers around a boy named Alex, a street child of 13 in Brazil who has been kicked onto the city streets by his stepfather after his mother dies. He is alone and scared. This is the story of how he adapts to life in the streets with a group of other children. Hazards are everywhere: drug-dealing, theft, glue-sniffing, harassment, brutality, even murder. It is not easy steering clear of them, yet Alex manages to survive, eventually making a home with 14 other boys in a house, working in an office, and attending evening school. This story grew from the real-life drama the author observed while on assignment. In an afterword, she reports that some 10,000 children sleep in Rio’s streets, and many more roam them by day, victims of inadequate nutrition, education, and shelter, and prey to drugs and violence. Alex does exist, but under another name.