Cover image for Petty crimes
Petty crimes
Soto, Gary.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, [1998]

Physical Description:
157 pages ; 22 cm
A collection of short stories about Mexican American youth growing up in California's Central Valley.
La güera -- Mother's clothes -- Try to remember -- The boxing lesson -- Your turn, Norma -- The funeral suits -- Little scams -- If the shoe fits -- Frankie the rooster -- Born worker.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.0 5.0 32052.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 10 Quiz: 39937 Guided reading level: S.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Meet Manuel, a young man who wears hand-me-downs from his older brothers until he finally gets a brand-new pair of shoes. And José Luis, who watches the vet bills rise after he buys a sick rooster to save it from becoming someone's dinner. And Alma, a young woman who runs to every shop and flea market in town buying back the clothes of her dead mother that her father has given away. These Mexican American youths meet life's challenges head-on in this hard-hitting collection of short stories.

Author Notes

Gary Soto was born April 12, 1952, and raised in Fresno California. He graduated from Roosevelt High School and attended Fresno City College, graduating in 1974 with an English degree. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including The Nation, Plouqhshares, The Iowa Review, Ontario Review and Poetry, which has honored him with the Bess Hokin Prize and the Levinson Award and by featuring him in Poets in Person. He is one of the youngest poets to appear in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry.

Soto has received the Discovery-The Nation Prize, the U.S. Award of the International Poetry Forum, The California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award twice, a Recogniton of Merit from the Claremont Graduate School for Baseball in April, the Silver Medal from The Commonwealth Club of California, and the Tomás Rivera Prize, in addition to fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts twice, and the California Arts Council.

For ITVS, he produced the film The Pool Party, which received the 1993 Andrew Carnegie Medal. Soto wrote the libretto for an opera titled Nerd-landia for the The Los Angeles Opera. In 1999 he received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association, and the PEN Center West Book Award for Petty Crimes. He serves as Young People's Ambassador for the California Rural Legal Assistance and the United Farm Workers of America.

Soto is the author of ten poetry collections for adults, with New and Selected Poems a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. His recollections Living Up the Street received a Before Columbus Foundation 1985 American Book Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Both swaggering and lost, the young teenagers in these 10 affecting short stories have left behind the innocence of childhood for a world "hard and gray, like cement." For a younger audience than Soto's Buried Onions (1997), this collection about Mexican American kids in California's Central Valley has some of the farce and fun of Baseball in April and Other Stories (1990), but it also confronts the dailiness of poverty, the physicalness of gang violence, the drift to crime. The final story, "Born Worker," tries too hard to sanctify the honest working-class kid versus his rich, lazy, lying cousin; but most of the pieces are more realistic, including both the boy who enjoys the raucous fun of his crowded home and the girl who feels ashamed of her grandmother's loud clothes. A mother stitches at a machine all day; a widowed father does his best, though "life was bitter as a penny." Soto is a fine writer, and in the casual talk and school-yard confrontations, the simple words flash with poetry. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this sharply honed collection of stories, Mexican American children on the brink of adolescence are testing the waters, trying to find their place in a world ruled by gangs and "marked with graffiti, boom boxes, lean dogs behind fences...." Some characters (La Gera, a shoplifter, and Mario, a scam artist) are already on their way to becoming juvenile delinquents. Others have chosen a straighter path. Most, however, are caught somewhere in the middle, swimming against a current of violence. Norma finds it much harder than she imagined to protect a doll put under her care for a social studies experiment. Rudy learns the meaning of defeat during a boxing match against a boy much smaller than himself. With a rare mix of compassion and irony, Soto (Buried Onions) crystallizes moments signifying the loss of innocence. His pithy last liners ("The vatos locos walked slowly away, their heads directed toward the future, and their bodies already half dressed for their funerals") will stop readers in their tracks, leaving them to digest the meaning of his words and ponder the fates of his protagonists. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

In this collection, Soto displays his gift for relating stories that compassionately describe the emotional turmoil that adolescents sometimes create for themselves, or that life simply presents. YAs will identify with the Latino characters and be able to share their own stories. (Gr 5-10) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.