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Local News

Gary Soto. Harcourt Children's Books, $14 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-15-248117-9

Once again, the author of Taking Sides and Pacific Crossing creates a vibrant tapestry of Chicano American neighborhoods in this newest collection of stories highlighting small yet significant moments in the lives of 13 adolescents. Soto's sharp ear for contemporary lingo and keen insights into teenagers' minds bring life to such characters as Philip Quintana, self-proclaimed mechanic; quarreling brothers Angel and Weasel; and lovesick Jose, who tries to win a girl's notice by pretending to be a racquetball champ. Conflicts may vary, yet in almost all of the selections determination, loyalty and a general zest for life are acutely depicted. Mexican terms and expressions (defined in a glossary) add particular spice and believability. Catching the infectious spirit of these slice-of-life stories, readers will have no trouble staying involved--they may pause only long enough to reflect on the subtle ironies that emerge at piquant moments. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)