Petty Crimes

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.


A collection of short stories about Mexican American youth growing up in California's Central Valley.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"All of these stories exhibit dazzling imagery and Soto's intense understanding of his subjects . . . Lively, absorbing, and meaningful."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 Gera, 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 UpA 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
School Library Journal
In this collection, Soto displays his gift for relating stories that compassionately describe the emotional turmoil that adolescents sometimes create for themselves, or that life simply presents. YAs will identify with the Latino characters and be able to share their own stories. (Gr 5-10) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In ten short stories, Soto (Buried Onions, 1997, etc.) presents a kaleidoscope of Mexican-American adolescents and the bullies they confrontþbullies 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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152054373
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/1/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 468,790
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.70 (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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