Born in New York City, Julia Alvarez moved back and forth several times between the United States and her family’s native home, the Dominican Republic, for the early part of her life. Her inspiration for writing began as she learned English since, as she writes on her website (www.juliaalvarez.com), “Not understanding the language, I had to pay close attention to each word -- great training for a writer.” She continued to pursue her writing passion while also teaching, and by 1991, she both earned tenure at Middlebury College and published her first novel. She wrote her first Tía Lola book in large part for her ten-year-old nephew, as well as to talk about the lives of the Latino children of immigrants. And so it is our pleasure to feature the entire Tía Lola series for this month’s School Library. Published by Yearling and recommended for grades 3-7, the series has an educator’s guide available through Random House at http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/teachers_guides/9780375869143.pdf
“HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO VISIT STAY”
When Miguel’s Tía Lola comes from the Dominican Republic to Vermont to help out his mami, Miguel is worried that his unusual aunt will make it even more difficult to make new friends. It’s been hard enough moving from New York City and leaving Papi behind. Sometimes he wishes Tía Lola would go back to the island. But he wouldn’t have the treats she puts in his lunchbox, which he’s sure helped him make the baseball team. And she needs his help to learn English. So Miguel changes his wish to a new one and figures out a clever way to make it come true.
“HOW TÍA LOLA LEARNED TO TEACH”
This time Tía Lola works her magic in school. Imagine what happens when a fun-loving, storytelling, magical Tía Lola is asked to be the Spanish teacher at Bridgeport Elementary where Miguel and his sister Juanita go to school. Tía Lola is reluctant at first because she never went past fourth grade in her native country, the Dominican Republic. But she can turn a boring hour into an adventure the kids will never forget. Miguel and Juanita end up sharing their very special aunt with the whole school. Soon everyone in town and all of the students at Bridgeport Elementary consider Tía Lola their very own aunt.
“HOW TÍA LOLA SAVED THE SUMMER”
Miguel isn’t exactly looking forward to the summer now that his mother has agreed to let the Sword family -- a father, his three daughters and their dog -- live with them while they decide whether or not to move to Vermont. Little does Miguel know his aunt has something up her sleeve that just may make this the best summer ever. With her usual flair for creativity and fun, Tía Lola decides to start a summer camp for Miguel, his little sister and the three Sword girls, complete with magical swords, nighttime treasure hunts, campfires, barbecues and a very special end-of-summer surprise!
“HOW TÍA LOLA ENDED UP STARTING OVER”
Welcome to Tía Lola’s bed and breakfast! With the help of her niece and nephew and the three Sword Sisters, Tía Lola is opening the doors of Colonel Charlebois’ grand old Vermont house to visitors from all over. But Tía Lola and the children soon realize that running a bed and breakfast isn’t as easy as they had initially thought it would be -- especially when it appears that someone is out to sabotage them! Will Tía Lola and the kids discover who’s behind the plot? And will Tía Lola’s family and friends be able to plan her a surprise birthday party without her finding out?
“KEPT SECRET: THE HALF-TRUTH IN NONFICTION”
Edited by Jen Hirt and Tina Mitchell
Publisher: Michigan State University Press
Creative nonfiction writers wrestle constantly with the boundaries of creative license. While the truth may inspire us to make confident assertions, it is the secrets, lies and half-truths that inspire us to delve further into our own writing to discover the heart of the story. The pieces in this collection feature essayists who do this type of detective work. Each essay contains a secret, lie or half-truth, ranging from the deep family secret to the little white lie, from the shocking to the humorous, and from the straightforward revelation to the slanted half-truth. Includes interviews with the contributors who discuss craft, ethics and creativity.
“EINSTEIN’S UNFINISHED SYMPHONY: THE STORY OF A GAMBLE, TWO BLACK HOLES, AND A NEW AGE OF ASTRONOMY”
by Marcia Bartusiak
Publisher: Yale University Press
In February 2016, astronomers announced that they had verified the last remaining prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity—vibrations in space-time called gravitational waves. Humanity can now tune in to a cosmic orchestra. We have heard the chirp of two black holes dancing toward a violent union. We will hear the cymbal crashes from exploding stars, the periodic drumbeats from swiftly rotating pulsars and maybe even the echoes from the Big Bang itself. Bartusiak was one of the first to report on the new generation of observatories, showing the motivations of the detectors’ creators and the gamble they made to prove Einstein right.
“REWRITE MAN: THE LIFE AND CAREER OF SCREENWRITER WARREN SKAAREN”
by Alison Macor
Publisher: University of Texas Press (May 30, 2017)
In “Rewrite Man,” Macor tells an engrossing story about the challenges faced by a top screenwriter. Whether writing love scenes for Tom Cruise on the set of “Top Gun,” running lines with Michael Keaton on “Beetlejuice” or crafting Nietzschean dialogue for Jack Nicholson on “Batman,” Warren Skaaren was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid writers, yet he had to battle for shared screenwriting credit on these films. His struggles yield a new understanding of the secretive screen credit arbitration process—a process that has only become more intense, more litigious and more public for screenwriters and their union, the Writers Guild of America, since Skaaren’s time.
“‘WHY WE DROP OUT:’
UNDERSTANDING AND DISRUPTING STUDENT PATHWAYS TO LEAVING SCHOOL”
by Deborah L. Feldman, Antony T. Smith and Barbara L. Waxman
Publisher: Teachers College Press
Through engaging stories and the use of students’ voices, this book corrects persistent misconceptions about youth who drop out of high school. Based on research conducted with high school dropouts in both urban and rural communities, the authors argue that, contrary to popular belief, most dropouts are not disengaged from school at an early age. Many have positive memories of their education, both social and academic, that educators and policymakers can draw on to create successful prevention and intervention practices. The narratives and insights presented here can help readers to better understand the interplay of school-related and personal factors that lead students to drop out.