Jessie de la Cruz: A Profile of a United Farm Worker

( 2 )


The acclaimed young adult biography of the UFW's first female organizer.
This inspiring story of Jessie De La Cruz, the United Farmer Workers, and la Causa is told as only Gary Soto—novelist, essayist, poet, and himself a field laborer during his teens—can tell it, with respect, empathy, and deep compassion for the working poor.
A field worker from the age of five, Jessie knew poverty, harsh working conditions, and the exploitation of Mexicans ...

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Jessie De La Cruz: A Profile of a United Farm Worker

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The acclaimed young adult biography of the UFW's first female organizer.
This inspiring story of Jessie De La Cruz, the United Farmer Workers, and la Causa is told as only Gary Soto—novelist, essayist, poet, and himself a field laborer during his teens—can tell it, with respect, empathy, and deep compassion for the working poor.
A field worker from the age of five, Jessie knew poverty, harsh working conditions, and the exploitation of Mexicans and all poor people. Her response was to take a stand. She joined the fledgling United Farm Workers union and, at Cesar Chavez's request, became its first woman recruiter. She also participated in strikes, helped ban the crippling short-handle hoe, became a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, testified before the Senate, and met with the Pope.
Jessie's life story personalizes an historical movement and shows teens how an ordinary woman became extraordinary through her will to make change happen, not just for herself but for others.

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Editorial Reviews

Studs Terkel
I was so deeply moved by this portrait of a true American heroine.
Soto eloquently chronicles the life of Jessie De La Cruz, a Chicano woman who tended the fields in the San Joaquin Valley throughout her childhood into adulthood and who quietly and determinedly changed the plight of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in America. Soto's retelling is personable and lauds her accomplishments. Readers become engrossed in De La Cruz's childhood in the fields of California when she witnesses the death of her cousin and endures the loss of several close family members, including her mother and grandfather. Soto records her accomplishments in the fields as she gains the trust of other field workers and convinces them to unionize, becoming the first woman UFW organizer. He also discusses her connection to the infamous work of Cesar Chavez. Soto tells De La Cruz's story while paralleling her struggles with those fighting for civil rights in the South, and he accurately describes life in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. The author creates authentic narrative by sprinkling Hispanic vocabulary throughout the text and by defining those terms in context. Several pictures of De La Cruz and other migrant workers are included, but they do not have the appeal of those in other books about the subject, such as S. Beth Atkin's Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories (Little, Brown, 1993) or Elizabeth Partridge's Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange (Viking, 1998/VOYA August 1999). Although this book is not necessarily exciting enough to lure young adults to read it on their own, those who are interested in the plight of migrant workers or who are doing research on the subject will find the biographical accounthelpful and thought provoking. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Persea Books, 115p, Index, Photos, Appendix. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Denise Beasely VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
From The Critics
As Rosa Parks is the mother of Civil Rights, so Jesse de la Cruz is for the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). Born in 1919 in Anaheim, California, of Chicano parents (American citizens of Mexican descent), Jessie never slept in a bed as a child or had a chair to sit in until she was 20 years old. Then, under the insistence of famed migrant leader Cesar Chavez, Jesse left her humble home and joined the planning sessions of the beginnings of the United Farm Workers movement. Together, they fought to change the world. An excellent resource detailing in words and photographs how this migrant child field hand became recognized as the UFW's articulate spokesperson, street fighter, and "surrogate mother." Genre: Biography 2000, Persea Books, 128p
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Cesar Chavez may have led the La Causa movement, but it was due to the tenacity of supporters like Jessie de la Cruz that the cause received national attention and influenced labor laws. Soto met de la Cruz, now in her 80s, at a 1998 gathering of the California Rural Assistance League and shortly after began interviewing her. Through her stories of her life as a child laborer, a young mother working under grueling conditions in the fields, a union organizer, and eventually a small farm owner, Soto illuminates the plight of migrant workers from the 1920s to today and the history of the La Causa movement. Told in simple prose that rings with the lilt of a Spanish accent, he covers the work of de la Cruz and her husband. They spent half a century persuading fellow farm workers to stand up for themselves, negotiating and leading strikes, and accompanying Chavez on the heroic 250-mile march from the lower end of the Great Central Valley to Sacramento. Chavez comes to life in the book as well, as a friend, a worker, and a tenacious thorn in the collective conscience of the country. Several pages of black-and-white photographs are included. While unapologetically devoted to his subject, the author effectively personalizes the struggle of farmworkers in a manner that will enable students to understand and care about their triumphs.-Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892552856
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 620,922
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Soto, author of books for children, young adults, and adults, lives in Berkeley, California. His best-selling fiction includes Baseball in April and Buried Onions.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Map of California 2
Chapter 1 Hurtful Beginnings 3
Chapter 2 Between the Rows 18
Chapter 3 Family of Her Own 29
Chapter 4 Hearing the Call of la Causa 42
Chapter 5 Speaking Out 66
Chapter 6 For the People 77
Chapter 7 A Farm of Their Own 83
Chapter 8 Jessie Today 99
Appendix Will the Family Farm Survive in America? Congressional Testimony of Jessie De La Cruz 105
Bibliography and Acknowledgments 114
Index 115
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Great book

    Great read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Great hall

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