La Mariposa

( 1 )

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

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

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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618073177
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 210,080
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.56 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.13 (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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  • Posted November 17, 2008

    Aziz Shorakhimov, (Texas)

    Author¿s biography and awards:<BR/><BR/>Francisco Jimenez was born in 1943 in San Pedro, Tlaquepaque, Mexico. He was four years old when his family first immigrated to San Joaquin Valley of California. Francisco went to work in the fields when he was six years old. <BR/>In 1997, his fictionalized memoir ¿The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child¿ was published. Francisco¿s books received several honors. They won the Americas Awards. ¿The Circuit¿ won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction; it was named the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and received a Jane Addams Honor Book Award.<BR/> At present, Francisco Jimenez works as a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Santa Clara University. For more biography of Francisco Jimenez visit: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/contributor.jsp?id=2265 <BR/><BR/>Summary<BR/><BR/>La Mariposa is an autobiographical story about a young boy named Francisco. One morning Francisco goes to school for first day of classes. He faces a difficulty at school because he cannot speak English. When Francisco does not understand English he uses his native language which is Spanish and a teacher along with the rest of the class cannot communicate with him. There is only one student named Arthur who could understand Spanish a little.<BR/>One day their teacher Ms. Scalapino gives Francisco a jacket, Francisco gets into a trouble of this jacket and fights with another student whose name is Curtis because the jacket belonged to Curtis. <BR/>Throughout the story we can see that Francisco cannot fit into the class because he comes from a different place and has a language barrier. One day their teacher Ms. Scalapino gives the students an assignment. The students have to draw a picture. Francisco does not understand it and he draws a picture of a butterfly. Then his picture disappears, but after sometime passes Ms. Scalapino tells everyone to sit. She calls Francisco¿s name, and she heads to his desk and hands him a drawing with a blue silk ribbon that has number 1 printed on it in gold. Francisco¿s family gets very happy about it. <BR/>Eventually, Francisco begins to say several English words like thank you to his classmates and his teacher. <BR/>At the end of the story when Francisco waits for his bus, Curtis and Arthur approach him. Curtis wants to see the drawing of a butterfly, and then Francisco gives the drawing to him and says: ¿It¿s yours¿. <BR/>The illustrations by Simon Silva are also fabulous. They are colorful and go along with the text. These illustrations add more flavor to the story. <BR/><BR/>I think this autobiographical story is very rich in meaning. Throughout the story we can see how a child from another culture and a country faces several obstacles because of lack of English. We all know that children who come to the US with their parents for immigration experience very similar problems, primarily of language barrier. So, this story is very useful to use in the class. By this story we can teach the children how to deal and be helpful to other children who do not speak English until they fit the class. Moreover, this story shows that everyone can learn and be successful despite their native languages. <BR/><BR/>Jimenez, F., & Silva, S. (1998). La Mariposa. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

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