A "fun-packed adventure" (VOYA) by a gifted and popular storyteller.
When Hector and his friend Mando, seventh-graders, visit Uncle Julio, a photographer in Fresno, they have more excitement than they ever imagined. On a photo shoot in a rickety old plane, they spot an armored car heist, and Uncle Julio snaps some shots of the robbers. After they report what they saw, the two robbers decide they have to teach Hector and Mando a lesson. When the bumbling thugs meet up with the quick-witted boys, the results are hilarious.
In this winning combination of a thriller and a comedy, Hector and his ``carnal'' (Spanish for blood brother), Mando, two realistically represented teens from East L.A., are first excited and then scared when they and Hector's Uncle Julio become the only witnesses to a robbery. Soto ( Baseball in April and Other Stories ; Pacific Crossing ) comically contrasts the adolescent wit and energy of these teens (when the two go with Julio on a dinner date, Hector notices that ``All evening Julio had complimented Vicky with such comments as . . . `I like the buttons on your dress,' and `You're a tidy woman'--small talk that made Hector wonder how his uncle ever got girlfriends'') with the slowness and spaciness of the robbers (as they look around for a car to steal, Huey ``Crybaby'' Walker suggests, ``Let's get another American car,'' to which Freddie Bork responds, ``Yeah, I like what GM's doing''). The boys' language is a lively and often musical mixture of English and Spanish, and a glossary provides readers with translations of words that may be unfamiliar. An entertaining novel, especially for contemporaries of these hip, likable protagonists. Ages 8-12.