A book that feels like a walk through a middle-grade school hallway, Bibi Belford has managed to capture the language of middle-schoolers while presenting a character that is often difficult to like, even as you are exposed to more of his life away from school.
Canned and Crushed
Sandro Zapote is a kid in a difficult situation: his father is in the US without papers, and his little sister has a heart condition that requires treatment that is far more expensive than his family can afford. The family’s living situation gets worse when his mother and sister head to Mexico so Girasol can get treatment, leaving Sandro and his father back in the states. Worry about his sister, a solid and often single-minded determination to help his family, and Sandro’s own sense of ‘justice’ in dealing with those who wrong him give this book an all too plausible feel, while introducing issues that are difficult and controversial for adults, let alone children.
Belford uses Sandro’s desires to do good with his often and frequent moments of bad behavior, tying it back to his desires to ‘do for’ his family when not everything works out quite as he would plan. Simple childish reactions of jealousy, mischief and small vandalisms will be easy for children to understand, and they will most probably ‘side with’ Sandro in some of his actions gone horridly wrong. Underneath the mischief and mistakes is a child desperate to help his family but wholly without the real skills or options to do so.
With a few twists and unexpected help from surprise places, wonderfully rich characters and prose that feels honest and real while still presenting issues that are far more adult than one would expect in a story for children, Belford presents readers with an opportunity for discussion, learning and enjoyment.
Title: Canned and Crushed
Author: Bibi Belford
Genre: Multi-Cultural, Family Saga
Published by: Sky Pony Press
Published on: 3 March, 2015
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
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When Sandro Zapote finds out his little sister needs heart surgery, he is determined to help his parents raise the money they’ll need to help her get better. Sandro’s dad is in the states illegally and must work two jobs to support the family. For one, he picks up roadkill for the department of streets and sanitation and gets paid by the carcass. For the other, he collects scrap metal to recycle for cash. Sandro helps his dad with some of the scrap metal heavy lifting, and one headboard, a weight bench, some gutters, and a few car parts later, Sandro has a brilliant idea: can collecting. Save the environment. Save his family. Maybe even save some spending money for the fabulous, fast new bike he’s been coveting.
Well-meaning and with funny inner monologue, Sandro is the kind of person you can’t help but cheer for. He’s a boy who loves drawing, soccer, and his little sister. And whether he’s fishing a fuzzy, dust-coated turtle out from under his sister’s bed or organizing a school-wide can drive all by himself, Sandro is a smart, self-aware hero, who makes just a few mistakes along the way.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.