Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Manolito Four-Eyes by Elvira Lindo

Manolito Four-Eyes

Manolito Four-Eyes published by Marshall Cavendish Children's Books Oct. 2010
Author: Elvira Lindo
Translated by: Joanne Moriarty

His name is Manolito García Moreno, but nobody in his neighborhood would know who that was. Everybody calls him Manolito Four-Eyes, because he has worn glasses since he was five years old. His explanation of his first name, Manolito, gives us our first taste of his unique voice and perspective:
I was named Manolito after my dad's truck, and the truck is named after my dad, whose name is Manolo. My dad was named after his dad, and so on back to the beginning of time. In other words, in case Stephen Spielberg wants to know, the first velociraptor was called Manolo, and that's the way it went right on up until today.
Manolito Four-Eyes lives in a part of Madrid called Carabanchel, and his life is filled with adventures and colorful friends and neighbors. His girlfriend, very briefly, is The One-and-Only Susana, and his best friend, Big Ears López, is also his arch-rival for her affections, until she ignores them both.

In Manolito's eyes, everything that happens is dramatic and earth-shaking. He charges through life getting into and out of trouble with reckless abandon. Besides Big Ears, his favorite companion is his grandfather, as they both seek to avoid getting in trouble with Manolito's mother, a fire breathing dragon of a woman, except when she is not. At one point Manolito says of her:
That's how my mom is-not even the Pope is capable of making her change plans. I'd like to see the Pope try to tell my mom to celebrate a birthday or not. My mom is the maximum authority on the planet; even extraterrestrials like Paquito Medina know that.
It is a funny, wild ride through Manolito's life, and kids will enjoy every minute of it. This is one of those books that the reluctant readers, boys or girls, will probably enjoy the most. Even though Manolito Four-Eyes is a crazy little kid in Madrid, kids will identify with his heart, his style, and his irrepressible nature.

My only problem with the book is that while the translator has done a marvelous job capturing Manolito's voice and style, there are times when expressions or descriptions don't the age group. I don't mean that the language is too complex, which is often a good thing, but that there are jarring turns of speech that don't sound like a kid at all. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend this book, especially for rambunctious or reluctant 4th and 5th graders.

Four out of five stars.

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