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It Doesn't Have to Be This Way/No tiene que ser asi: A Barrio Story/Una historia del barrio Hardcover – July 30, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Children's Book Press (July 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892391618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892391615
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 9.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,913,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Monchi, the 10-year-old narrator of Rodr!guez's (Am?rica Is Her Name) well-intentioned if oversimplified cautionary tale, describes his encounter with a gang. When Clever, Monchi's neighbor and a gang member, announces, "It's about time you joined the Pee Wees," Monchi is gratified that the older boy "wanted to be friends and wasn't going to hurt me." Thus, he accepts the invitation, despite warnings from his older girl cousin, Dreamer: "I used to hang around with Clever and them guys.... I don't like some of the things they do." On the night he is to be "jumped in" (beaten for 60 seconds by fellow gang members) as a rite of initiation, a rival gang shows up with guns and shoots Dreamer, who has come to dissuade her cousin from participating. After Monchi learns that she will live, he decides not to join the gang. Unfortunately, all the episodes in the bilingual story get equal weight (a visit with Monchi's uncle, a conversation with Dreamer about a knife in Monchi's possession, etc.) so that the story never builds to the climax when Dreamer is shot. Similarly, Galvez's portraits are lifelike but fall short of creating tension. For example, in a spread that foreshadows Clever's malevolence, Clever gets lost in the gutter. The message is valuable, but gets muddied in the telling. Eve Bunting's Your Move, illus. by James Ransome, offers a more forceful picture book treatment of the same subject. Ages 6-up. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-"Gangs" is the theme of this bilingual picture book. Ten-year-old Monchi likes to read books and write poetry and lives in the barrio. He is invited to join the Encanto Locos' Pee Wees, the neighborhood gang, by an older member, Clever. In order to join, Monchi must prove himself by first witnessing another initiate as he gets "jumped in" (beaten by five gang members for 60 seconds). Then he is taught how to dress, tie a bandanna on his head, put his placa (name) on the school wall, steal a bicycle, and buy a knife. However, the night Monchi is to be jumped in, his older cousin shows up to plead with him not to join and she is shot by the rival gang as they drive by. Fortunately, she recovers. Soon after, Clever shows up with a handgun and a plan for revenge. In the end, with support from his family, Monchi makes the right decision. Rodriguez's moral is evident but not spelled out, making this book a springboard for discussion. Galvez's realistic illustrations of the characters reflect their strong emotions.
Reina Huerta, Young Women's Leadership School, New York City
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

The son of Mexican immigrants, Luis J. Rodriguez began writing in his early teens and has won national recognition as a poet, journalist, fiction writer, children's book writer, and critic. Currently working as a peacemaker among gangs on a national and international level, Rodriguez helped create Tia Chucha's Café & Centro Cultural, a multiarts, multimedia cultural center in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is the best book I have read dealing with the pressures and dangers of joining a gang. The author gives you a realistic view of what it means to be a part of a gang. The story follows a young boys quest to belong. You get to watch this young boy slowly drift away from his family and friends into the gang lifestyle, until something tragic makes him realize that it doesn't have to be this way. This book does an incredible job of making you realize all that kids go through when faced with pressure to join gangs. This is a book that I am going to use in my classroom to open the eyes of my students. I believe this book is informing and empowering kids to not join gangs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Bowen on January 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
It was the first time I heard the echo of my voice all semester. Why did my own words seem so loud to me? It was because it was the first time I had them all quiet at once. Something had been momentarily stirred in my room of under-supported kids; the kids we typically leave behind. It was their story. Or it was their uncle's story. Maybe the story of a friend. But, many knew these characters. Many knew these issues. And they had finally let me in. With a book, no less. The best way for a teacher to sneak inside. And I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Though it's a picture book, never does it talk down to the reader. It treats all who enter its pages with dignity and respect. And my middle school students returned to it over and over again. That's the true sign of a great book.

Chris Bowen
Author of "Our Kids: Building Relationships in the Classroom"
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over all good book. I prefer the english version over the spanish. The english is better written. I use the book to teach my students (5th graders) the importance of belonging and why some kids affiliate themselves with others, despite knowing it might be bad/dangerous.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Luis Rodriguez is the real thing, a man who changed his own life in a positive direction as a youth, and for the past few decades has focused on helping other young people do the same. The illustrations are modeled on real kids who acted out the story with mentors' support.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Coughlan on September 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered numerous books the same day and this was the first received with invoice and book in great shape. I like efficiency and this seller was definitely efficient.
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