Monday, April 21, 2008
First Day in Grapes
Author: Pérez, L. King
Illustrator: Casilla, Robert
Publisher and Date: Lee & Low Books, Inc., 2002
Age Range: 1st-3rd grades
Summary: This is about a boy named Chico, and his family who are migrant workers and move from one migrant camp to the next. Chico doesn't like going to school because the kids pick on him there and call him names; he wants to be a race car driver. When he gets to school he makes friends with John Evans and likes his new third grade teacher, Ms. Andrews, who can hit a home run. Ms. Andrews is an encouragement to Chico and makes him feel good about his school work, especially in math. At lunch the mean 4th grade boys make fun of the tortilla his mother made for him. Chico stood up to the boys because his mamá wanted him to be strong and have courage. Chico used his math skills to ask the boys addition problems that they weren't able to answer. He stood up for himself without fighting to the kids everyone else was scared of.
Response: The reason I chose to read this book was because of the biographical book I read earlier on Hugo Chavez and how he fought for the rights of migrant workers. This book was not as much about migrant workers as it was about a boy's first day at a new school, which every child can relate to! Like a lot of children, Chico was nervous about going to school because the other children there always seemed to pick on him. Unfortunately there are always students that are picked on by the 'cool kids' in class, and there is not always something done about it. I think this would open up the eyes of many students to see that each person has something they are good at, no matter where they came from, the language they speak, or the color of their skin.
I also liked how the illustrations portrayed the emotions of the characters in the book. I feel like I was able to understand how Chico felt from him being upset about going to school to making new friends and even standing up for himself. The colors used were vibrant and reminded me of a Mexican culture where they love to use lots of color! The illustrations were were done in watercolor, colored pencil, and pastel.
Teaching Ideas: This would be a good book to use on bullying. It can set an example for children on how you can stand up to and approach your bully without fighting or calling them names. It also emphasizes how each student is unique and that they deserve the same respect as anyone else.
Another element of the book that could be used to incorporate more of the culture aspect would be to make tortillas as a class or even bring some in and be able to hand out a recipe for them. This could be used as the snack for the day (and they are delicious if you roll them up with peanut butter!). I doubt the peanut butter is a Mexican tradition, so maybe cheese might be more appropriate to use. Be sure to definitely check for peanut allergies before doing it.