Petty Crimes
Petty Crimes

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Annotation: A hard-hitting collection of stories about Mexican-American youth coming of age in California's Central Valley.
Genre: Short stories
Catalog Number: #233500
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Harcourt
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition Date: 2006
Pages: 157 pages
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 0-15-205437-5 Perma-Bound: 0-605-02620-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-15-205437-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-02620-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2006277526
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Both swaggering and lost, the young teenagers in these 10 affecting short stories have left behind the innocence of childhood for a world hard and gray, like cement. For a younger audience than Soto's Buried Onions (1997), this collection about Mexican American kids in California's Central Valley has some of the farce and fun of Baseball in April and Other Stories (1990), but it also confronts the dailiness of poverty, the physicalness of gang violence, the drift to crime. The final story, Born Worker, tries too hard to sanctify the honest working-class kid versus his rich, lazy, lying cousin; but most of the pieces are more realistic, including both the boy who enjoys the raucous fun of his crowded home and the girl who feels ashamed of her grandmother's loud clothes. A mother stitches at a machine all day; a widowed father does his best, though life was bitter as a penny. Soto is a fine writer, and in the casual talk and school-yard confrontations, the simple words flash with poetry. (Reviewed March 15, 1998)
Horn Book
Ten powerful short stories about Latino youths include "The Funeral Suits," in which Tomas and his cousin Miguel find their fathers' funeral suits in the closet and try them on; as they strut down the street, two bullies demand the suits. In "Little Scams," young swindler Mario tries to sell stolen goods at his "yard sale," but a more experienced scam artist gets his wares and all his money. A sense of family strength relieves the undercurrent of sadness in these raw stories.
Kirkus Reviews
In ten short stories, Soto (Buried Onions, 1997, etc.) presents a kaleidoscope of Mexican-American adolescents and the bullies they confront—bullies ranging from tough, menacing teens to life's unavoidable truths. The stories are as diverse as the characters, from cat-fighting girls to insecure boys. Among the best: "Your Turn, Norma," a heartbreaking account of a persecuted girl and her struggle to protect the doll she is charged with carrying for a week as part of a class assignment; "Born Worker," which juxtaposes a hard-working, salt-of-the-earth boy with his scheming, lazy cousin; and "Mother's Clothes" in which a girl copes with grief by hunting out and taking back her dead mother's clothing, dispensed to thrift shops by her father. All of the stories exhibit dazzling imagery and Soto's intense understanding of his subjects. He deftly brings to light relationships and their complications among family, peers, and elders in a well-crafted collection that's lively, absorbing, and meaningful. (Fiction. 12-15)
Publishers Weekly
In this sharply honed collection of stories, Mexican American children on the brink of adolescence are testing the waters, trying to find their place in a world ruled by gangs and """"marked with graffiti, boom boxes, lean dogs behind fences...."""" Some characters (La G era, a shoplifter, and Mario, a scam artist) are already on their way to becoming juvenile delinquents. Others have chosen a straighter path. Most, however, are caught somewhere in the middle, swimming against a current of violence. Norma finds it much harder than she imagined to protect a doll put under her care for a social studies experiment. Rudy learns the meaning of defeat during a boxing match against a boy much smaller than himself. With a rare mix of compassion and irony, Soto (Buried Onions) crystallizes moments signifying the loss of innocence. His pithy last liners (""""The vatos locos walked slowly away, their heads directed toward the future, and their bodies already half dressed for their funerals"""") will stop readers in their tracks, leaving them to digest the meaning of his words and ponder the fates of his protagonists. Ages 8-12. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up--A colorful potpourri of 10 ironic short stories. Filled with both humor and sadness, these slice-of-life narratives portray both self-reflective and self-involved teen characters who learn valuable life lessons from encounters with family, friends, and antagonists. Mario-a bitter, streetwise teenager-is obsessed with scamming everyone he meets until he gets some of his own medicine thrown back at him. Fourteen-year old Alma tries to cope with her mother's slow and painful death from cancer by buying back all of the woman's clothes that her grief-stricken father gave to the Salvation Army. Rudy, 17, boxes to prove himself and impress a pretty girl whom he later discovers is the sister of his experienced boxing opponent. Rich in simile and metaphor and sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases that can be understood from context, these simply told memorable stories about Hispanic teens resonate with realism because they deal with concerns most young people have--"Who am I?" and "Am I doing the right thing?"--Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Word Count: 33,557
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 32052 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.1 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q39937
Lexile: 800L

Meet Manuel, a young man who wears hand-me-downs from his older brothers until he finally gets a brand-new pair of shoes. And Jose Luis, who watches the vet bills rise after he buys a sick rooster to save it from becoming someone's dinner. And Alma, a young woman who runs to every shop and flea market in town buying back the clothes of her dead mother that her father has given away. These Mexican American youths meet life's challenges head-on in this hard-hitting collection of short stories.

La guera
Mother's clothes
Try to remember
The boxing lesson
Your turn, Norma
The funeral suits
Little scams
If the shoe fits
Frankie the rooster
Born worker.

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