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Gr 7-12-Gary Soto's 1992 book (Harcourt, 1992) about two 14-year-old Mexican American boys from San Francisco who go to Japan as summer exchange students comes to life with the narration provided by Robert Ramirez. The pace is enjoyable, and the accent of the narrator enhances the story of Lincoln Mendoza and his friend, Tony Contreras. The boys had begun studying shorinji kempo, which is similar to judo, at a school in San Francisco. Tony soon dropped the course, but Lincoln continued and was fascinated by it. When their school principal offers them the chance to go to Japan, Lincoln dreams of studying kempo in a real dojo, or martial arts school. The boys stay with Mitsuo Ono, a boy about their age, and his parents on a small farm outside of Tokyo. Lincoln finds that the local dojo is a vacant lot with a concrete drive and a grassy yard, and that the kempo classes are taught by a woman who is the Ono family's friend. While the boys learn about Japanese culture, including family values, religion, recreation, and the rituals of the public baths, they share information about Mexican American traditions with their hosts. Spanish and Japanese words and phrases are sprinkled liberally throughout the story. The recording, unlike the book, lacks immediate access to a glossary (which is at the end of the book). This is not a problem, however, since phrases will be understood in context. A reading of the glossary of Spanish and Japanese phrases occurs at the conclusion of the story.-Joanne K. Hammond, Chambersburg Area Middle School, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"The author's keen understanding . . . produces a story that is both touching and enlightening."--"Publishers Weekly"