The Circuit

( 44 )


"'La frontera'...I heard it for the first time back in the late 1940s when Papa and Mama told me and Roberto, my older brother, that someday we would take a long trip north, cross la frontera, enter California, and leave our poverty behind." So begins this honest and powerful account of a family's journey to the fields of California -- to a life of constant moving, from strawberry fields to cotton fields, from tent cities to one-room shacks, from picking grapes to topping carrots and thinning lettuce. Seen ...
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The Circuit

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"'La frontera'...I heard it for the first time back in the late 1940s when Papa and Mama told me and Roberto, my older brother, that someday we would take a long trip north, cross la frontera, enter California, and leave our poverty behind." So begins this honest and powerful account of a family's journey to the fields of California -- to a life of constant moving, from strawberry fields to cotton fields, from tent cities to one-room shacks, from picking grapes to topping carrots and thinning lettuce. Seen through the eyes of a boy who longs for an education and the right to call one palce home, this is a story of survival, faith, and hope. It is a journey that will open readers' hearts and minds.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Readers of this book will gain insight into...the lives of immigrant families." Book Links November 2007 Book Links, ALA
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Steinbeck told this story from the point of view of the Okies and the Great Depression. This is the next generation of laborers, and Jiménez tells his own story well through small incidents--the ever-growing family; the cotton rash from a young boy's first attempts at picking the merciless pods; and the refusal of most teachers to integrate Spanish speakers into the classroom. It was a tough life in the late forties and early fifties. The struggle stills goes on, and youngsters would do well to learn about it-and to know that Jiménez himself pulled himself out of "the circuit" to reach that American dream. Houghton Mifflin's hardback version of Jiménez's stories comes after the fact of honors already received. It's a handsome little book of memoirs describing the day to day life of a Mexican family reaching for the American good life through the only means possible to them--hard labor picking California's year-round crops.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Wendy Gelsanliter's pleasant album features ten original songs and four adapted traditional songs. The traditional songs include "The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night," "Head and Shoulders," "Missy Mind Your Manners," and "Lazy Bones" (adapted from the spiritual, "Dem Dry Bones"). Among the original tunes are: a song about an "Itty Bitty Kitty in New York City" who clears the streets of rats; "Ants Wear Underpants," about dancing ants; "Lost and Found," about a child lost in a store; an ode to insects called "Butterfly Fly;" and the kidnapping of the alphabet by the outlaw letters "LMNOP." A gentle folk song style is used for most of the songs, with guitars and percussion as the primary background instrumentation. "The Morning Song" has a taste of calypso; "Pajamason" is an upbeat jazz song; and "LMNOP" has a minor country-western tune. Children will enjoy Gelsanliter's pleasant alto voice and singing along with these child-friendly tunes.-Beverly Bixler, San Antonio Public Library, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395979020
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 85,251
  • Age range: 11 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Francisco Jiménez emigrated from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, to California, where he worked for many years in the fields with his family. He received both his master’s degree and his Ph.D. from Columbia University and is now the chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department at Santa Clara University, the setting of much of his newest novel, Reaching Out. He is the award-winning author of The Circuit, Breaking Through, and La Mariposa. He lives with his family in Santa Clara, California.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2015

    90 pages, first person

    This book is 90 pages long, but the story itself is about 75 pages of that. I paid $1.99 for this. The book was very good, up until the end. Then it just stops. It was like hitting a concrete block wall, going 80 mph. There are at least three more books in this series. The next two are $5.99 plus tax each. I will not be purchasing them. I would nothave purchased this one, if someone had said how many pages it had, it was a cliffhanger and it is first person. This book is told over several years by an illeagal, migrant worker, from Mexico. It was interesting and is based on the author's life, but it is a work of fiction. It is a good, clean read. Just not much to it. It took me less than an hour and a half to read it. I feel ripped off.


    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    Highly recommend this book, easy to read, very powerful.

    The Circuit was an enjoyable, easy to read book because each story was it's own chapter. I liked hearing about how life was for Francisco growing up as a migrant child in the United States. I think the author was really good at describing what it was like to be living and working as a migrant family. He was also able to make me feel like I could see and experience all of the details of things he was describing; like working on the plantations, the different scenes and places and the feelings and emotions of all the characters in the stories. The author used both English and Spanish in the book, which I liked because I learned some new words and had a better feel for the culture and customs of the family. The family had many challenges and hard times but they always worked together as a family and supported each other. I am not so sure I would be able to work as hard as they did just to keep food on the table. I would recommend this book to people to read so everyone could realize how hard some people have to work to get the things other people take for granted.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2013

    The Circuit an excellent story! i think this a very good story f

    The Circuit an excellent story!
    i think this a very good story for immigrants that want a better life and education for their children. For immigrants family that need jobs and a house to live. The ending its very sad and fustrated.
    -Demmie Garcia

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    I recommend this book to anyone.

    I recommend this book to people of all ages. I recommend it because he tells about the determination and work ethic that Mexican immigrants displayed.

    The Circuit reminds us that migrant workers lose friends when they move. It reminds us that friendship is important and we should value it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2011

    An inspiring book about a boy who has to move all the time, to make money.

    A little boy named Francisco has to live a hard life. Francisco and his family live in poverty and do not have a life long job. They work in the fields and pick cotten. When the cotten season is over they move to a new placc e to do more work for other people. They face many stugges along the way. They are afraid that they will not be able to aford anything to keep the family togather. We have an easy life compared to those who have to have to live through poverty everyday of their life. I would recomend this book to anyone who has to face the stuggels of moving to a new place all the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    I am a principal of a school where 92 percent of the students live in poverty. A large number of children in my school are migrant, asylee or refugee children.

    I chose to read this book as a way to reflect on "my" children's stories. I believe we are better educators when we try to understand our students' lives. The stories in this book reminded me of the challenges and obstacles my kids face.

    I enjoyed this book. I didn't like the ending (not the author's fault.. I just wanted to know what happened!)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    Must read

    Read this book people trust me its a sad and has alot of drama good book dont juge its a book by its cover read the bacits better to find out that wat

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2011


    I love this book.Read it in a couple of hours.MUST READ!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2010

    Great book- must read

    The 12 stories you read in this book are just truly inspiring. Each short story is a major chapter of his childhood as a migrant worker. Jimenez grasped my attention in the start of the book, and never let go. The story is mainly about his family leaving Mexico and going to the United States for a better life. He describes his several struggles in each of the stories. These struggles are sad but inspirational. This story shows Francisco's emotions, and it shows his family's too. After Ii finished each short story of the book, I felt that I understood how life of a migrant worker is, and also learned more about the narrator. I somewhat experienced Jimenez's feeling, such as the heat working on the fields, or his fear when border control came and raided the camps for any illegal immigrants. I liked this book for many reasons. There was a message that I received from reading it. There are others who are misfortunate than you and you should cherish not just material goods but your family. Another reason I liked this book is because Jimenez did an excellent job in describing each of the characters emotions as if he were them. This book was also pleasing to me because of the descriptions of the places. Each time the author described their current location whether at a plantation or in the family car I really visualized the scenes. I even could smell the out side air and feel the heat on my back as his dad, brother, and him worked to earn money for the family. One of the main reasons I enjoyed this book was because the author incorporated English and Spanish words into the book. I learned some Spanish words. Overall this was a suspense filled story and it was very hard to put down.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    A true life story about a young boy's journey to his American Dream

    Author Francisco Jimenez writes individual stories in the form of chapters in this book about his life growing up in a family of Mexican migrant workers. As a young child, his family comes from Mexico to California in the search for a better life and their American dream. Jimenez moves to California with his Mother, Father, and Brother Roberto. The family moves around to different towns within California looking for work picking cotton, strawberries and topping carrots. Francisco Jimenez could not work with his family when he was too young so he would sit in their truck and wait for them. Their truck was important to them because it was what got them to and from work everyday, and the family could not afford to ever miss a day of work. As Francisco's life progresses, his mother keeps having more and more children until their struggling family of 4 living in small tents and garages climbs to a family of 8 people. Young Francisco Jimenez has no friends because his father is always moving the family from town to town looking for in-season farm work. Whenever he finds a friend whether it be the neighbors fish, his pet bird, a teacher, or even a boy from school, that friend is taken away. The Jimenez family works hard in the fields, and at times are only being paid one and a half cents for picking cotton. The family is used to moving and don't have many belongings. The family sleeps on one mattress that they put on the floor wherever they are living and they have their meals made for the day every morning by Mrs. Jimenez on her one frying pan. The young children had no form of entertainment accept for playing kick the can, guessing games or telling ghost stories. The family struggles further with the sickness of their baby Panchito at one point. When the family finally lives in a house while they were working at the fields in Corcoran, the house burns down along with some personal belongings. In the fire Francisco looses his pocket notebook where he kept all of the english words he wanted to remember. Also on that day his little sister took his penny collection and bought candies with them. Francisco's place of relief from work was at school. He loved going to school and getting an education. He dreaded every summer, knowing that he would be away from school and working in the fields along side his father and brother. The Jimenez family continues in their streak of bad luck all the way up until the final page of the book.
    I enjoyed reading this book about the continuous misfortunes of Francisco Jimenez's life. The book is a very easy read and doesn't have confusing words or long sentences. The book has Spanish words and sentences scattered in it, but you can figure out what they mean with the context clues in the previous or following sentences. The stories that Jimenez tells are real and he does not baby the reader. He makes you think about the stories and how they pertain to real life. This book makes you reflect and think about how many of the things that he and his family experienced still happen today. I enjoyed how each chapter would connect in the overall point he was trying to make, but where individual short stories of his life. The hardships that Jimenez and his family went through were so powerful and moving to read. I would recommend this book because touches on important subjects in our world today. Though this book is not action packed, you cannot guess what misfortune will happen next to the family.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    A good memoir

    I probably liked the read because my life was similar at the same time. But being a gringo, I did not have the stress of fearing deportation. My crop following was more northern California, Oregon, and Washington. My older brother said we worked with more "Oakies" than Mexicans in the early fourties, but I had no idea there were Oakies, Mexicans, blacks, or any other races in the fields. We were all just "Crop Followers". And my father drew the line at picking cotton. Too tough on the hands and fingers.

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  • Posted May 6, 2009

    The Circuit

    The circuit is a storie about the life of a migrant child, who always had to be moving around the country, because when a season is over like the season of straberry is over they had to find another job. This imigrant family have 10 member so it was a lot of mouth to feet and is very hard because they don't a good life. This family had to be carefully with the people that is around the neighborhood,watched they step, so the immigration officer didn't see them.This kind of life was very difficult for Francisco Jiménez.Every time he found a friend he has to leaved the place because the season was over.Also Francios Jiménez didn't knew English, it was very difficult to him in the school to do the class, homework and find friends.Years kater he started to worked with his father,mother and brother to picked cotton.His father back was not working so his mom had to stay at home and Francisco and his brother go to worked.Then they dicided to go back to Santa Maria, there Roberto and Francisco went to school, but Roberto has to find a job.The principal of Roberto school found a job for him it was not good, so later the principal looked for another job to him, this job was more better from the other.The immigration officer y Santa Barbara was looking for immigrant.One t=day in Francisco school he has explain a work, later the principal came in with a manwith a green uniform, it was the immagration officer. Francisco went outside of the classroom and into the immagration officer car marked, he sat in the front seat, to go pick up his brother Roberto.It was like that how all this sacrifitions for had a good life was over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2008

    A reviewer

    The book circuit was certainly a very enjoyable novel. Especially the suspense of the novel. It was positive experience for me with this book. At first, I thought it would be a bad experience by observing the cover of the book. Fotunately, I was wrong the more I read the intresting the plot of the story was getting. The best part of the book would be its climax because it stayed on trackand kept the suspense. The characters in the book were believable and interesting. My favorite character in the book would be the protagonist because he showed every emotions, and characteristic that a ideal protagonist of a book should have. In fact, all the characters were really good and authentic I think this book was acknoledge mainly because of the author's creativity about the characters. The author kept my interest throughout the entire novel. The way the author gives descriptions in the book are really admirable. Especially the part where he keeps his suspense in the book alive. I would recommend this book to my friends who likes fictionous book but also realistic. The reason why I recommend this book to a certain types of my friends because they are the one who will enjoy and have a positive experience in the book like I did. Therefore, I conclude that people should have a open mind when they are reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2008

    Good reasonable book

    The book 'The Circuit' is about a family of 4 that isn't really wealthy. The kids go to school while the parents pick strawberries, and cotton. Later in the book the family turns into 10 people instead of 4. The family then has to work together to stay alive. One of the kids wants to help his dad when he gets out of school. The auther does a good job in engaging the reader because in every chapter theres a problem with the family or something interesting going on at work. What I like about the book is how it kind of relates to real life situations in some countries. I have one question and it is why didnt the parents go to school if there children are so they can get a better job.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    Truely an Amazing Story

    I really enjoyed the Circuit by Francisco Jimenez. I really liked it because you can picture what's going on and can understand how the author felt at that moment. It has great understanding of what early Mexican immigrants had to do in order to succeed in Americ. It lets you understand how it feels moving illiegally from Mexico to California as a little child and living the life that he worked as a field worker to make money for his family. For someone who does not like to read i highly recomend this book. It shows you how hard of a life it is to be a migrant. 'On both sides of the fence were armed guards dressed in green uniforms. Papa called them la migra, and explained that we had to cross the fence to the other side without being seen'. The way Francisco Jimenez describes every aspect of his life in this book, you can really feel his emotions and relat. Being a migrant at that young of age and not experiencing a normal childhood is upsetting. There are many life changing experiences throughout this book.It makes me think differently about life and how easy i got it. So cherish every moment, and make the best of every situation no matter how bad or terrible it may be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Inspiring Story

    The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez is a great book that tells the life and struggles of a poor Hispanic family. The Circuit moves you from your home and into the lives of the family. Everything they face, they face together and even when it gets tough they make it through. The main character of this story is a young boy named Panchito. His family has to move constantly to keep up with the growing seasons. They make money from picking strawberries, usually they make just enough to survive. Panchito usually goes to school, he is great at math but struggles in the English department. When he finally is able to get accustomed to the area they live his family has to move. One example of this is when he is persuaded to learn how to play the trumpet by his teacher, and runs home excitedly to tell his family he realizes that they are moving the next day. He has a very large family which includes his Mom, Dad, his brothers, Roberto and Trampita and his sister Rorra. His mom represents the more caring side of his family and supports Panchito in his decisions. His father on the other hand is a lot stricter. Panchito¿s family is very strong and close and even when money, gifts, and food are scarce they stick together. The constant struggle that Panchito's family faces just to have enough to survive is heartbreaking. It¿s nice to see that even though they go through so much the bonds that they share with each other are strong enough to overcome the bad. I would recommend this book to anyone that is interested in Hispanic culture or just wants to read an inspiring story. From the families strong bonds that keep them together to the harsh conditions they have to go through, The Circuit will defiantly take the reader on an emotional journey. This book has the amazing ability to make you want to hold close to what you have and appreciate it every single moment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007


    This was a very powerful book to read. It was very informative and emotional, written with the perspective of honesty and innocence only a child could have. I began this book filled with disgust, wondering why the author's family even came to this country, or why they kept having child after child. Yet, as I read on, I realized I was reading the account of a family being shaped, tried and tested. The struggles mentioned are not gratuitous. There is no sense of the author whining 'I'm a victim'. You absolutely have to read the companion book, Breaking Through, if you like happy endings. I would have read many chapters more from this author. Too bad the books are rather short.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2007

    This Book is Rich of Struggle and Culture

    What Francisco Jimenez manages to do in The Circuit, places him among great American authors. He accomplishes to keep his semiautobiographical childhood stories interesting, yet capable of depicting the struggles associated with immigrants and especially migrant children and workers. Through the retelling of his stories he makes readers value their own lives and appreciate their own culture. In order for him to do so, he depends on multiple literary devices in his writing. The Circuit is rich of such creativity from beginning to end. From the numerous ironic situations in the book, to the subtle yet effective use of personification and not so subtle vivid imagery, ¿The buzzing insects, the wet sweat, and the hot dry dust made the afternoon seem to last forever. Finally, the mountains around the valley reached out and swallowed the sun (66),¿ Francisco brings his stories to life. The stories stay implanted in the readers mind because of his capability to use literary aspects in this piece of work, and still maintain his childhood stories factual and realistic. The book, a collection of short stories is not to be overseen because of its minor physical size but instead like the readers realize through each story, they accurately picture the Mexican American suffering of hard laboring field workers. From the pain and agony of his parents, brothers, and himself in the book, readers get a sense of a family¿s dedication to survive in a harsh economic and cultural environment encountered in the crop fields of California. After a routine rising and steep falling of hope for a better life, which Francisco encounters after moving from farm to farm, he still does not lose faith that his family¿s situation will improve. Such is his belief that he does not allow his age or lack of the English diction in his knowledge, detain him from confronting what seems to him the mysterious American education, and ruthless and back braking work of cotton picking and grapes in the cruel fields. His determination to succeed takes him through an interchange from the hot blazing condition of the fields to the classroom on a constant basis, and the common social struggle encountered by foreign students. Aside from his language barriers and family¿s financial problems, he is met with the challenge to make friends. His seeking of friends extends from classmates, teachers, other workers, and even animals only to show how his basic children desires are not destroyed by the severity of his situation. Francisco¿s idea of fun does not seem to be affected by the fact that some of his wishes are actually contrary to his fathers, such as the wishing of rain only to know that his father wanted the opposite in order to be able to work. He continues his seeking of fun as a wish in Christmas and playing in his school playground, only after a row of disappointments, does he sustain a life changing transition, however, which does not take away his ambition to learn. An ambition, which student readers recognize to be key in order to do well in school, after the main character gradually improves in his learning. The learning idea extends from that of seeing Francisco as role model, to the comprehending of Hispanic cultural views and practices. Views such as the female¿s role in Mexican society, not only as a caring mother, but as curer or savior by the presentation of a curandera or ¿medicine woman¿ and La Virgen de Guadalupe. Which, are important characters through the stories, in the sense that they aid the Jimenez family in their misfortunate situations. The Circuit is also culturally full by much of the Spanish language content, such as comal, mi amigo del alma, Carcachita, frijoles de la oya, tonto, La Migra and countless other words and phrases. Additionally, traditional Mexican tails are mentioned such as La Llorona, and the Mexican Revolution, which help give the book a unique mark with the culture of Mexican immigrants. Nevertheless, The

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2007

    Great Book

    I enjoyed reading The Circuit it was a book about a family that was from Mexico and they always wanted a better life. So one day they headed north from Gaudalajara, Mexico to go to California in search for a better life. They started their journey on a train then when they got to the border they crawled under a fence into California where a woman picked them up to take them to find work. I think this family couldn¿t wait to get to California to start a new life and make good money. This family will use anything they could find to use like the first night in California they sleep under a tree and used leaves as a pillow to sleep on. The family was looking for work once they had the chance to and because they needed money to survive. They started working at a cotton field picking the cotton for Three cents a pound. I thought this was pretty sad that the farmer will only pay them that much and they will work outside in the heat all day and they will only make three cents per pound. Well the parents were at work they will have the little boy watch his little brother in the car, the little boy wanted to help pick cotton so bad that one day after they had lunch he will tried to pick cotton put when he did it he remember that it was three cents a pound so he mixed all kinds of dirt in to for it can weigh more but when his dad saw it he got really mad at him and told him that he has to do it right if he wants to pick cotton because they could get fired and that is the only job they can do. The farm also offered them a tent to live in well they stayed there. When they will need thins they will go every night to the dump that was right behind them to get things like floors, furniture, and different things to cook with. When the little boy started school he didn¿t like it at all because no one will talk to him and he didn¿t really know how to speak English like a lot of people that come from a different country. When he was in class he used to always think about picking cotton and working on the fields. One day when he was at school he really wanted to be friends with a kid that every one like but then that kid got in a fight with him because the little boy was wearing his jacket that the principal gave him when it was could outside. The little boy also won a contest for the best drawing in his class and he received a blue ribbon for first place and that¿s when everyone started to like him but to me I don¿t think people should have to do things to get noticed they should be liked for who they are. He didn¿t stay in school that long because every time his family will have to move to pick different things like strawberries, carrots, and grapes to make more money to have a better life, in a way that will suck because once you get used to your new school you don¿t want to leave and go somewhere else and start all over. When they moved to different labor camps they moved up to a one bedroom shacks. Once the little boy was old enough he will help his dad and his older brother pick cotton well his mom stayed home cooking food and watching all of the little kids. When school started in the area they were living at the little boy will always go back to school and he will try and learn English as much as he could. He will carry around a note pad were he keep all of the words he knew and during lunch he will stay in his class to have his teacher help him speak English. Once the dad started to get sick they all didn¿t know what to do and they didn¿t know how they will get money to survive. So one day the older brother talked to a principal at his old school to see if he can help him get a job. When the principal found a job for him it was in town and he thought it was going to be a full time job but when he got there the owner told him that it was only to cut the grass outside every week. But he needed a better job so the principal hired him at his little brother¿s school as a janitor to clean the school every night. The l

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2005

    This book is the best

    This book was great i liked it cause its kind of realted to the story of my family .This book taught me to be very thankfull of what i have.

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