Friday, August 20, 2010

Manolito Four-Eyes

Lindo, Elvira. 2010. Manolito Four-Eyes: The 3rd Volume of the Great Encyclopedia of My Life. Ill. by Emilio Urberuaga. Marshall Cavendish.
(Advance Reader Copy)

Manolito Four-Eyes is a refreshing addition to the world of middle grade fiction.  Set in Carabanchel, Spain, a suburb of Madrid, the Manolito Four-Eyes series, gives the American reader a hilarious glimpse into the life of a 10-year Spanish boy.  While many aspects of young boyhood are universal - bullies, practical jokes, and general shenanigans, Manolito's adventures (or misadventures!) take place amidst a backdrop of

afternoon siestas, 
Anyway, the Bozo and I began going down to Luisa's to watch cartoons while my grandpa and my mom snored in unison upstairs.  We'd take off our shoes, we'd have a deadly cheese fight, and then we'd lay down to watch the cartoons.  Since there were only two or three cartoons, after a week we knew them all by heart, and I could fall asleep halfway through and then wake up right before the end.  I highly recommend this experience.  You only need: a couch, a VCR, and a cartoon you've seen fifty times.
overly dramatic women,
"I can't live without you, my babies, my Cata, my grandpa Nicolas. . . . You're my real family." Our Nosy Neighbor Luisa took out a handkerchief from her sleeve and wiped away a tear that none of us really saw.  She must have wiped it away before it came out her eye. "Nothing is more silly than getting mad over a video, Cat, I want you to accept a Reconciliation Dinner next week."  My mom wiped away her own invisible tear and said, "We'll be there."  When Luisa left, my mom changed to her police inspector face and thought out loud, "I wonder what she wants me to do this time?"
 and an outdoor fiesta for St. Peter's Day with grandpa,
The first ones in all of Carabanchel on the dance floor were my grandpa, me and the Bozo. I did it partly for the singer: it's sad when no one dances to the song you're singing.  Luckily, by the third song other people started to dance, and I could go back to my place at the food stand and keep drinking Coke with Big Ears, who was sitting on one of the stools.  Every once in a while, my grandpa and the Bozo would leave the dance floor and come over to have more Coke and "the usual."  I don't know how many trips they made.  There are some versions of the story that say ten - others, twelve. And the Bozo isn't even allowed to have Coke! ... What happened next is still being talked about in Carabanchel.
In this installment, Manolito's family is staying home for the summer, and while other families flee the city for vacation, Manolito notes that,
like every summer, we were the only ones left on this side of the Mazanares River... Summer in Carabanchel is like everywhere else in the world: there's a swimming pool, there's ice cream, there's siesta time, and there's a time when it's cool out.  Me and my grandpa and the Bozo go down to Hangman's Park every afternoon, we buy a super-duper ice-cream cone, and we flop down on the bench until it gets dark and my grandpa says, "Your mom doesn't realize it, but there are times when we live like millionaires."
Yes, they do.

Manolito has the wry eye of a Greg Heffley, but a bit more of a conscience.  Occasional sketches add humor to an already funny dissertation. It appears that Caroline Travalia has done a fine job of translating the text from its native Spanish. This is The 3rd Volume of the Great Encyclopedia of My Life. Manolito Four-Eyes is a "whole lotta cool" and a whole lotta funny! Highly recommended.

Read an excerpt from the first book here.

And now, after a very busy and successful summer of "Make a Splash @ Your Library," I am going to take a break for a few days and enjoy what's left of summer.
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