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Creativity Hardcover – January 1, 1997
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5. When a boy named Hector joins Charles's class, Charles finds the new boy's dark skin and straight hair confusing. How can Hector speak Spanish, be Puerto Rican, and have the same skin color as Charles, who is African American? This confusion sparks discussion about shared heritage and language. When Charles decides he will teach Hector English, his parents remind him that his English isn't exactly perfect?in fact, it is most definitely original. This is where the title comes in. As their friendship grows, Charles protects Hector from being teased by giving him a pair of used but in-style sneakers, a true sign of friendship because, "In this neighborhood you got to have the right sneakers 'less you want to get laughed at." In return, he receives a not-so-stylish palm-tree shirt, but it's a gift he deems "very creative" and is proud to wear. Unfortunately, the tone is pedantic and the writing is wordy and stiff. Still, much of the story is right on target. This posthumous work displays a genuine understanding of a gently blossoming friendship between two boys, and children will encounter real-life issues and situations that many will recognize from personal experience. Lewis's watercolor illustrations are well executed and capture the boys' emotions at just the right moments. Not great but certainly worth noting.?Alicia Eames, Brooklyn Public Library
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 4^-8. With realistic, light-filled watercolor illustrations of school and neighborhood, Lewis gives a contemporary urban setting to an unpublished story by the late author-illustrator Steptoe. Like Steptoe's great picture book Stevie (1969), this story is about getting to know and like an outsider. The story is more didactic here, but Lewis' relaxed, thoughtful pictures of individual people will draw children into a scenario they will want to talk about. Charles is surprised that Hector, the new boy in class from Puerto Rico, speaks Spanish. How can that be when Hector is as dark-skinned as Charles, and Charles speaks English? His teacher and his parents explain to him about the history of Puerto Rico, and he comes to see how he and Hector are connected and how everyone in the classroom "is the result of different people mixing up together." What's more, languages change and mix, and people can be "creative" when they speak and do things their own way. There is a slight story (Charles helps Hector when the boys at school tease Hector about his clothes), but what kids will want to talk about are the language and connection issues, which are as hot today as when Steptoe wrote this. Hazel Rochman
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