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Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush

Library Journal

In a small town where the drawings make you smell the heat and the burros, the enigmatic Mr. Mendoza has appointed himself graffiti king. Writing on walls, corpses, unwilling bystanders, and teens caught peeping at girls, the self-designated group conscience wields his brush with sardonic wit, scrawling on the cemetery's wall, for example, "Mendoza never slept here" and on a sign with the town's name, "No intelligent life for 100 kilometers." Then the scribe announces his departure, and everyone is abuzz. Will he just walk out? Kill himself? But Mendoza's brush has a life of its own in providing an escape route. Adapted from the short story collection Six Kinds of Sky, Urrea's magical realist parable about growing up in Mexico turned out to be strangely prophetic. For Urrea himself, Latino Hall of Fame inductee and Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Devil's Highway, the conscience-driven Word, like Mendoza's brush, allowed him to ascend to literary and journalistic acclaim. VERDICT Cardinale's colorful, wood-block-style art paints this lively tale about Rosario and its townspeople with nostalgia and humor. A gem.
- May 15, 2010 

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