FICTION

Max Loves Muñecas!

Max Loves Muñecas! illus by Mauricio J. Flores. 80p. Rosetta Pr. 2014. Tr $7.00. ISBN 9781497353831.
COPY ISBN
K-Gr 3—When Max endures teasing from his classmates because he enjoys looking at the beautiful dolls in Señor Pepe's shop, Pepe shares the story of how he came to follow his passion and talent for sewing in defiance of gender expectations. Orphaned as a child in Honduras, Pepe is taken in by a local seamstress who includes him in her business. When Pepe breaks a part of her sewing machine, he must face his fear of revealing himself as a boy who sews and ask for help from a crew of homeless boys. It's difficult to pinpoint a setting for Max's or Pepe's story, which is disorienting; Max's city is never named, and Pepe's country of origin is revealed only in the last chapter. A few extraneous subplots weigh down the narrative, and Max's story is so brief in comparison to Pepe's that it almost seems unnecessary. Fortunately, strong characterization keeps this work from feeling too muddled; Pepe and the boys he befriends struggle against the hardships of poverty and cultural expectations of what is "manly," and all show believable growth. Black-and-white illustrations are too few and of poorer quality than the writing, with stiff figures whose body parts are disproportionate. The characters' ages are unclear, though this may allow for a broad range of age among readers. Not a flawless book, but Elliott's characteristic skill at interpreting tough topics for a young audience shines through.—Amy Martin, Oakland Public Library, CA

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