Three children grow up with their hard-working mother's stories about her rich uncle back in Mexico, but when they save money for a visit, they learn a surprising truth
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This entry in the Chapters series is an amiable story without much sticking power. Mam , raising three children on her own in America, has always told stories about their Uncle C‚sar, a rich Mexican landowner who is to come to their rescue should they ever need him. Although their life is hard, and there are times when it really does seem like they need him, Mam won't ask for help. When the children secretly put together enough money for a family visit to meet C‚sar, they find that their mother hasn't told them the whole truth. Spurr (The Long, Long Letter, p. 233) includes a wonderful twist to her story--C‚sar Gonzales is as important as Mam says he is but has been dead for years, while his hacienda has become a famous tourist stop--but flat characterizations distract from the poignancy of Mam 's memories (and her need to invent back-up help so that the children will feel safe in the worst times). The revelation about the uncle comes in clumsy dialogue that instead of protracting the suspense, dilutes it. (b&w illustrations, not seen, glossary) (Fiction. 8-10) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 3-4-An unusual, heartwarming story of a Mexican-American family's struggle to survive in California after the father's death. Mama instills good manners, thriftiness, and optimism in her children by always saying that someday they will visit their rich uncle Cesar in Mexico. The book spans a good length of time, for the three children grow up and finally earn enough money to surprise Mama with a visit to Mexico. It is only then that she confesses that Uncle Cesar died when the children were young, but she wanted to provide them with a sense of security. The family then visits their uncle's hacienda, which is now a government museum. By encouraging her children to become hard-working, self-reliant people, Mama had given them more than their uncle's money ever could have. The book has a distinctive Mexican Catholic flavor, and ends with a glossary of Spanish words that are used in the text. While this title is easy to read, the teenaged characters make it appropriate for the hi/lo shelves.
Janet M. Bair, Trumbull Library, CT
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Hyperion, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0786811242