Canned and Crushed by Bibi Belford with an Excerpt

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.

Canned and Crushed by Bibi Belford with an Excerpt

Title: Canned and Crushed
Author: Bibi Belford
Genre: Multi-Cultural, Family Saga
Published by: Sky Pony Press
ISBN: 1632204355
Published on: 3 March, 2015
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 195
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon iTunes Kobo Downpour Book Depository Google
See this Title on Goodreads

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.

 

So, you notice I’m standing in the hall. Yes, I’m in trouble. You probably want to know

why. Thirty seconds ago I told Miss Hamilton, my teacher with six toes on her right foot, that my

dad’s job was helping dead animals. She told me to go to the hall and be ready to explain myself.

But how should I start to explain myself—I mean, in your opinion? How would you explain

yourself?

I’m four feet, two-and-a-half inches tall. Shorter than most of the boys in my class, but

taller than at least five girls, so at least there’s that. I’m eleven years and two weeks old. I had

my birthday on the first day of school, which stinks. Anybody with an early September birthday

really gets a raw deal.

I mean, Cheese Whiz, the birthday policy isn’t even up and running by the first day of

school. And how do you know which kids might be cool enough to invite to your birthday party?

I only started at Lincoln Elementary last year in the spring, when we moved across town, so it’s

tough to judge who’s cool and who isn’t.

Of course, by the second week of school, things are sorted out. Then those lucky birthday

buggers get to wear a crown and the whole class sings to them. Maybe they even get a birthday

pencil. And if I did get to have a party, which I never do, by then I’d know exactly who to leave

off the invite list. For starters, someone whose initials are A. K.

Not that my birthday is a big deal. I’m not Abiola Kahn, for crying out loud. In third

grade, Abiola’s parents brought pizza and goodie bags to school to celebrate their “princess.”

There were little flower erasers for the girls and soccer ball erasers for the boys. Overboard, I

say. Of course, if you want to make friends and win enemies, pizza and goodie bags are a start. But I’m off track here—let’s get back to explaining about myself.

I’m supposed to be in fifth grade. I know what you’re thinking. And no, I didn’t flunk.

When I was five I lived in Mexico, and there wasn’t any kindergarten in our town. So when I

registered here, instead of putting me in first grade where I belonged, they stuck me in

kindergarten. And look how well it worked. I’m smart and bilingual and the oldest of all the

fourth graders in my class.

My hair is jet-black. I got that color name from a label on one of my little sister’s

crayons. Jet Black. It sounds cool. Of course, I’ve never seen a black jet, have you? I remember

the jet we took here from Mexico—purple with an orange sun on the side. Maybe fighter jets are

jet-black.

So here I am, standing in the hallway. I’m not sure why I need to explain myself to Miss

Hamilton. She can plainly see I’m four feet, two-and-a-half inches tall and good looking, with

my jet-black hair that is past my jet-black eyebrows because I need a haircut. Maybe I should

start by explaining the things she can’t see. Like, how someday I want to be a professional soccer

player. And also an inventor. I’m always thinking of better ways to make stuff.

Take, for example, a can of soda. Wouldn’t it be great to have a fizz meter on it? At a

party, when no parents are watching, you could turn it up and shoot soda spray up into the air or

drink it so fast that your burps are louder than drag racers. And in the lunchroom at school, you

could calibrate it to shoot discreetly at certain annoying girls sitting across from you at the lunch

table.

Uh-oh. Here comes Miss Hamilton now. Watch and learn compadres.

“Sandro?”

“Yes?”“Are you ready to explain yourself?”

Now here’s something that really bugs me about teachers and grownups in general. They

ask you a question, but before you can answer the first question, they become a batting machine

and start firing questions at you—or worse, they answer for you.

About Bibi Belford

Bibi Belford graduated with a B.A. in English from Westmont College and has worked as a playground supervisor for children of migrant workers and was a student teacher in a bilingual classroom before completing her masters in Bilingual Literacy at Northern Illinois University. She currently works as a literacy coach and reading interventionist for an elementary school in Illinois. She is the mother of four grown children and lives in Batavia, Illinois.

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