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No Place
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No Place

by Kay Haugaard
 

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Based on a true story of kids who create a community park out of urban ruin, this book tells the story of Arturo Morales's plan to improve his neighborhood and its future--a plan that becomes a journey of self-discovery for Arturo and his friends. Featuring positive depictions of both Hispanic culture and cross-cultural cooperation, this book is filled with suspense,

Overview

Based on a true story of kids who create a community park out of urban ruin, this book tells the story of Arturo Morales's plan to improve his neighborhood and its future--a plan that becomes a journey of self-discovery for Arturo and his friends. Featuring positive depictions of both Hispanic culture and cross-cultural cooperation, this book is filled with suspense, vivid depictions of life in L.A. 12 illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gwendolyn Bradley
This story, based on real events though not on real individuals, takes place in an inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood which is situated next to a freeway and lacks anyplace for children to play. Arturo, a sixth grader, is drawn into a class project to create a neighborhood park. Family members and some classmates are skeptical, since the proposed site is currently a dump and the class has no apparent way of raising the $59,000-plus needed to buy and convert the property. At the same time, Arturo's older brother Francisco joins a gang, Los Vatos Locos. Arturo is initially pleased; he admires the gang and hopes to join himself soon. The two story lines are woven together (too neatly); Arturo's commitment to and leadership in the park project grows at the same time that he becomes more anxious about Francisco's involvement in the violent gang. In the end, the whole neighborhood rallies around the park project, and Arturo and Francisco come to predictable conclusions about self-empowerment and the dangers of gang life. Despite the book's predictability, it offers a compelling story and likeable characters (including some strong females); it would be a good choice on a list of coming-of-age stories or in a social studies unit on different types of American neighborhoods.
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Arturo and his older brother Francisco share a small apartment with their parents on a litter strewn and gang-tagged street opposite the freeway onramp in Los Angeles. On his way to his new sixth grade class, Arturo has to step around the young children playing with their toys on the steps of the apartment building. When he comes out on the sidewalk, he sees other small children pretending to drive in the dangerous derelict hulks of abandoned cars that fill the dump across the street from his front door. Sometimes he thinks his father and his friend Angel are right; nobody cares about the people on this street, and no one will do anything to help them. Arturo's teacher, Miss Fenwick, and her student teacher, Mr. Moreno, however, insist that much is possible through concerted action; by inviting the children to imagine a better place, they help both those who believe and those who doubt learn what can be accomplished if they work together. This fictionalized account of a true event tells how a class of sixth graders organized, advocated, earned money, and inspired others to donate to their cause to turn a dumping ground into a safe, green space for the neighborhood children to play. The lessons to be learned are about perseverance, standing up for what you think is right, and not being afraid to try. Although there is a happy ending, the story does not overlook the incredible challenges faced by those struggling to make a new life in this country; gangs, teenage pregnancy, and the sheer weight of poverty interrupt but do not derail this group of youngsters. Arturo's voice is consistent throughout and reflects many of the common issues of this age and socio-economic group—there aregirls who are pests and girls you like but are too shy to talk to, simultaneous envy of and anger toward your big brother, annoyance with adults telling you what to do, thoughts that school is a waste of time, and instinctive desire for revenge when someone you care about is hurt. There are strong girl and boy characters portrayed as well as positive role models for children from non-dominant cultures. Moreover, the teacher ties all the children's activities to curriculum learning opportunities in social studies, writing, and math, so this book offers just a wealth of potential uses in the classroom. Like Paul Fleischman's Seedfolks, this is an inspiring story of children initiating a project that brings a diverse community together in positive ways.
Children's Literature - Sylvia J. Pantaleo
Arturo Morales, a Hispanic boy, attends an inner city Los Angeles school. His Grade 6 class accepts the challenge of improving their neighborhood by transforming a vacant lot used as a local junkyard into a park for younger children. Through direct experience, the students quickly discover the many aspects involved in their project, including securing signatures on a petition, designing the park, raising funds, interacting with government officials, writing letters, and collaborating with others. The students encounter much cynicism and skepticism but they persevere in their efforts, learning a great deal about the importance of individual actions and of the latent talents of their friends and neighbors. A secondary plot involves Arturo's older brother who is involved in gang activity. The story was inspired by a true story of a group of California students who created a neighborhood park. Although the grade six students in the novel encounter and overcome adversity, the obstacles seem to be too easily and conveniently surmounted. The resolution of the gang subplot has a "happily ever after" ending, and this also seems to detract from the realism of the context.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781571316752
Publisher:
Milkweed Editions
Publication date:
06/28/2007
Pages:
187
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
8 - 13 Years

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