Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Smell of Old Lady Perfume Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

The Smell of Old Lady Perfume by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
11 yr old Chela Gonzalez is excited about starting sixth grade.

"Apa told me to imagine that sixth grade was like standing at the top of the tallest building downtown. It was like being up there in that tall building and looking down. The people on the street looked just like ants. To sixth graders, third graders, all the way down to pre-kindergarteners. Each grade was farther away than the next, smaller than the last. The best thing was those ants looked up to sixth graders. Knowing this made me all the more nervous and exicted about starting sixth grade."

Chela father is always wakes up Chela and her 3 siblings for school. When Chela and sister Silvia oversleep ,they know something is wrong. Chela's father has suffered a stroke. Chela's begins school a few weeks late. Chela returns to school an outcast. Her best friend has left her behind for the popular girls. At school Chela is friendless. Though all her classmates are Mexican she is teased about her accent.

"In my fifth grade bilingual class everyone spoke funny like me. But kids who'd been in the A classes sine kindergarten were different. They spoke mostly English at home and sounded a lot like the people on television. I'd never read out loud in front on kids like that. I was nervous, so I sped up and stumbled over myself. In that instant Camila's group went from pretending I didn't exist to snickering behind my back."

I really liked this novel. The author doesn't do anything fancy, she simply tells a story very well. Its easy to see how important Chela's father is to the family. In Chela, Martinez has created a character many readers will want to get to know.

The Smell of Old Lady Perfume was released in 2008 by Cinco Puntos Press Click the link to read a few professional reviews. Ages 10up


rhapsodyinbooks said...

So what does it have to do with old lady perfume? (which I hate by the way so it caught my eye right away!)

Doret said...

"So the days passed and nothing much changed, except that the air became thick with the smell of old lady perfume, of dying flowers and alcohol. It was the same smell from when my mom was sick with my little brother. It was the smell of bad things"

The author provides a great visual with that passage.

Jill, the title got me too. Thanks for asking me to explain. I meant to do it but forgot.