A Fire in My Hands: Revised and Expanded Edition

Overview

Few writers capture the everyday moments of life like Gary Soto. In direct and vivid poems, he draws from his own youth in California's Central Valley to portray the joys and sorrows of young people. His writing focuses on Latino characters, yet speaks to readers of all ethnicities.

    Acclaimed by educators since its original publication in 1998, A Fire in My Hands has been revised and expanded in this new edition. Old and new ...

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Overview

Few writers capture the everyday moments of life like Gary Soto. In direct and vivid poems, he draws from his own youth in California's Central Valley to portray the joys and sorrows of young people. His writing focuses on Latino characters, yet speaks to readers of all ethnicities.

    Acclaimed by educators since its original publication in 1998, A Fire in My Hands has been revised and expanded in this new edition. Old and new fans of Soto's work will welcome the return of his compelling poems.

One of the poems in this collection, "Oranges," is a Common Core State Standards Exemplar (Grades 6-8, Poetry).

Includes an introduction and an interview with the author.

The author's twenty-one poems are about the themes of life and each is preceded by a personal anecdote.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Poetry provides comfort and a sense of identification for children of all cultures. Gary Soto, a Mexican-American, writes what he calls "working life" poems, which deal with commonplace things - an evening's walk with a girl, a special friendship, selling oranges. He advises young poets to "Look to your own lives," as he has done in A Fire in My Hands. Each of the 23 poems is preceded by an anecdote to set the tone and help us see how his poet's mind works. "Poems feed into poems," he writes, "like a needle passing a stitch through cloth." Indeed they do.
VOYA
This revised and expanded edition of Soto's original work features sixteen poems new to the collection, as well as sixteen others from the first edition that the poet has reworked and updated. In his introduction, Soto explains that he writes poetry to give life to the small details of the days, moments that add up to life itself. The poems collected here are fine examples and excellent teaching tools to encourage teens to write about the small but ultimately meaningful experiences of their lives. In the Chatting with Gary Soto section that concludes the book, Soto cites "Hitchhiking with a Friend" as his favorite of the collected poems, and it is clear to see why. Vivid and emotionally powerful-improved by the changes made since the 1990 edition-it illustrates exactly what Soto is aiming for in celebrating life through poetry. This slim volume is a must-have for school and public libraries. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Harcourt, 96p., $16. Ages 11 to 18.
—Vikki Terrile
School Library Journal
Gr 7-12-- A collection of 23 free-verse poems, each prefaced with a comment on how it came to be written. All reflect Soto's own experiences of growing up as a Mexican American in California, and, later, as the father of a young child. The poems, about everyday activities and events, are similar to Paul Janeczko's work in Brickyard Summer (Orchard, 1989). In the brief foreword and a question-and-answer section in the back of the book, Soto explains how he came to write poetry and why he writes as he does. Like the selections and comments by a number of contributors in Janeczko's The Place My Words Are Looking For (Bradbury, 1990), Soto's poems and thoughts provide gentle encouragement to young people who are seeking to express themselves through the use of language. --Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-These simple, free-verse selections skillfully capture that which is commonplace and transforms it into something mesmerizing and lovely. A first date, the embarrassment of belching root beer out of one's nose, the joy and the intricacies of the proper way to eat Mexican food, and a lost dog are just a few of the topics that Soto addresses. The 31 poems are delightful in themselves, but the poet also adds the brief reminiscence of the event or feeling that prompted him to write each one. Some are autobiographical, but more of them are only vaguely inspired by an actual event. Like Lori Carlson's Cool Salsa (Holt, 1994), these selections depict Latino characters but will resonate with readers of all ethnicities. This revised and expanded edition will delight creative-writing teachers who are looking for a book that demonstrates the genesis of a poem as well as the compelling universality of the human experience.-Heather M. Lisowski, Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"These simple, free-verse selections skillfully capture that which is commonplace and transforms it into something mesmerizing and lovely. . . . will delight creative-writing teachers who are looking for a book that demonstrates the genesis of a poem as well as the compelling universality of the human experience."—SLJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152055646
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,490,189
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Soto 's first book for young readers, Baseball in April and Other Stories, won the California Library Association's Beatty Award and was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. He has since published many novels, short stories, plays, and poetry collections for adults and young people. He lives in Berkeley, California. Visit his website at www.garysoto.com .

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