Overview

In his first year of school, Francisco understands little of what his teacher says. But he is drawn to the silent, slow-moving caterpillar in the jar next to his desk. He knows caterpillars turn into butterflies, but just how do they do it? To find out, he studies the words in a butterfly book so many times that he can close his eyes and see the black letters, but he still can't understand their meaning. Illustrated with paintings as deep and rich as the wings of a butterfly, this honest, unsentimental account of...
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La Mariposa

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Overview

In his first year of school, Francisco understands little of what his teacher says. But he is drawn to the silent, slow-moving caterpillar in the jar next to his desk. He knows caterpillars turn into butterflies, but just how do they do it? To find out, he studies the words in a butterfly book so many times that he can close his eyes and see the black letters, but he still can't understand their meaning. Illustrated with paintings as deep and rich as the wings of a butterfly, this honest, unsentimental account of a schoolchild's struggle to learn language reveals that our imaginations powerfully sustain us. La Mariposa makes a subtle plea for tolerance in our homes, our communities, and in our schools.

Because he can only speak Spanish, Francisco, son of a migrant worker, has trouble when he begins first grade, but his fascination with the caterpillar in the classroom helps him begin to fit in.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The start of school is very confusing to Francisco: a different language, new faces and a routine he doesn't understand. He suffers from headaches and desires to "fly back" to his Papa in the fields. Francisco's interest is stimulated by what he can understand. He observes a caterpillar that will become a butterfly and draws what he sees around him. He can make no sense of the fact that the biggest boy in class beats him and rips the jacket that the kind principal has given him for warmth. By the story's end, Francisco is involved in class and has earned the understanding and empathy of his classmates. Jimenez weaves Spanish, without translation, through the text. Not only does this more truly represent Francisco's character; it gives English-speaking readers a better understanding of the protagonist's trials. This should be required reading for older elementary children who are meeting students from other cultures. The book was written and illustrated by two men who immigrated and worked in the fields of California. The book's strength reflects their experiences.
School Library Journal
Francisco, the son of migrant workers, has difficulty adjusting to a new school because he doesn't speak or understand English and, to make matters worse, the class bully seems to have it in for him. Adapted from a chapter in Jim nez's The Circuit (Univ. of New Mexico, 1997), winner of the 1997 Am ricas Award. (Gr 3-7) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Held back in school because he did not speak English well enough, the author speaks of himself in the third-person to tell this autobiographical story of a school incident. Francisco is a young immigrant boy from Mexico trying to adjust to first grade in the US. Unlike the other children, Francisco wears suspenders, does not understand school bells, and can't comprehend a word his teacher is saying. His fascination with a caterpillar in a jar leads to flights of fancy; he imagines himself flying out of the classroom and over the rows of lettuce where his father works. Difficulties include a misunderstanding that leads to a fight with classmate Curtis, and a butterfly picture, drawn by Francisco, that disappears. Jim‚nez successfully captures the confusion and isolation of his protagonist in an unembellished, straightforward narration; the ending is impossibly happy, as he wins a prize for his art, makes amends with Curtis, and a newly hatched butterfly goes free. Silva's characters are strongly outlined in black, and his robust scenes of landscapes and classrooms are rich with the oranges of the monarch, echoed in fields, sunsets, and the flannel of Francisco's shirt. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-9)
From the Publisher
"Held back in school because he did not speak English well enough, the author speaks of himself in the third-person to tell this autobiographical story of a school incident. Francisco is a young immigrant boy from Mexico trying to adjust to first grade in the US. Unlike the other children, Francisco wears suspenders, does not understand school bells, and can't comprehend a word his teacher is saying. His fascination with a caterpillar in a jar leads to flights of fancy; he imagines himself flying out of the classroom and over the rows of lettuce where his father works. Difficulties include a misunderstanding that leads to a fight with classmate Curtis. . . . Jiménez successfully captures the confusion and isolation of his protagonist in an unembellished, straightforward narration. . . . Silva's characters are strongly outlined in black, and his robust scenes of landscapes and classrooms are rich with the oranges of the monarch, echoed in fields, sunsets, and the flannel of Francisco's shirt." Kirkus Reviews

“La Mariposa is a lovely story that addresses so many of the transformations in the life of a young bicultural, bilingual child. It’s refreshing to read a book in which English is flavored with Spanish and in which Latinos present positive and generous role models."—Julia Alvarez

“This moving story of a Spanish-speaking child surviving his first year in school touches the heart. It also dramatically reminds us that if we are to save the children, the schools must nurture the child’s language.”—Rudolfo Anaya

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547562476
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/26/2000
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 426,629
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • File size: 19 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Francisco Jim?nez 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 chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department at Santa Clara University, the setting of much of Reaching Out. He is the award-winning author of The Circuit, Breaking Through, La Mariposa, and his newest novel, Reaching Out. He lives in Santa Clara, California, with his family.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    Soldiers den

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