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My Father, the Angel of Death: By Ray Villareal Paperback – Oct 1 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–This story is written in a high-interest, low-reading-level style that makes it a perfect title for kids with reading-motivation issues. Seventh-grader Jesse knows that a lot of the other kids–and adults–consider him lucky. After all, isn't his dad the huge Angel of Death, one of the hottest wrestlers on TV? However, his life isn't as great as it sounds. His father is hardly ever home, his parents are fighting about how often he is gone, and Jesse has attended 10 schools since kindergarten because they've moved so often. Readers meet the outlandishly costumed mock-tough guys of the fictional American Championship Wrestling League, see what they're like in the dressing rooms, and enjoy the descriptions of their theatrical battles in the ring. Jesse explains how the matches are scripted and played up for maximum entertainment, although he still rightfully worries when he watches his father constantly getting knocked down and thrown to his knees. The story takes place in San Antonio, and there's lots of Texas atmosphere and characters mixing Spanish into their everyday conversations. Villareal's occasionally awkward prose sometimes strays from the way a seventh-grade boy would talk, but the book's flaws are minor, and its appeal to its intended audience should be a smack-down.–Walter Minkel, New York Public Library
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About the Author
Ray Villareal is the author of My Father, the Angel of Death (Pinata Books, 2006) and Alamo Wars (Pinata Books, 2008). He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Bilingual Education and a Master of Liberal Arts. He lives in Dallas, Texas, where he teaches in the Dallas Independent School District.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Fat Wendell wants to be Jesse's friend, but Jesse is too preoccupied with his parents' marital problems to realize that "WendY' is offering him a precious gift of friendship. Three hardcore thug kids in the same middle school, Manuel, Chester Leonard and Hugo Sanchez, are always pushing around and intimidating the smaller kids. They even corner innocent girls and steal their purses to pocket their tiny hoards of dollar bills. Then Jesse steps in, gulping, telling the mean trio to stop harassing the beautiful, foxy half-Spanish Sara Young.
This intervention leads to a bit of romance for our boy, just when his relations with his parents are coming to a showdown. The mother is always nagging Mark to give up the ring. "Look at your knees, Mark," she cries out. "You're 38 years old and you have the legs of an old man." Mark says that he's in the hurting business.
One thing leads to another as a pushy teacher at school fails little Jesse, and then blackmails him, saying she will turn his F into an A if he can produce the Angel of Death, Mark Baron himself, to come to her school and make a rare piblic appearance. Mrs. Petrovsky is a crazed fan like Kathy Bates in Misery and she'll do anything, anything, to get those autographs from her favorite wrestling hero.
Everywhere Jesse goes with his mom and dad, even a trip to their local diner, is spoiled by fans. It made me think that I would hate to be the son of a famous TV personality and/or athlete.
The back cover says that this is the first book by author Ray Villareal. After reading a couple of bestsellers by Irv Muchnick, I wanted something along the same lines as WRESTLING BABYLON and I picked up this book sort of by association. Though Villareal doesn't have Muchnick's classic sportswriters' pizzazz, he is a careful and thorough writer and I got the impression all the Latino parts were very inspiring, all the more so if I was actually in the targeted age group of 5th to 8th grade this novel is aimed at.