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Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez Hardcover – March 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-The dramatic story of Chavez's 340-mile march to protest the working conditions of migrant farmworkers in California is the centerpiece of this well-told biography. Readers meet Chavez at his grandparents' home in Arizona where he lived happily amid a large extended family. His childhood was cut short when, due to financial difficulties, the family was forced to move to California to seek employment. After years of laboring in the fields, Chavez became increasingly disturbed by the inhuman living conditions imposed by the growers. The historic 1965 strike against grape growers and the subsequent march for "La Causa" are vividly recounted, and Chavez's victory-the agreement by the growers granting the workers better conditions and higher pay-is palpable. While sufficient background information is provided to support the story and encourage further research, focusing on one event makes the story appealing to younger readers. The text is largely limited to one side of a spread; beautifully rendered earth-toned illustrations flow out from behind the words and onto the facing page. A fine addition to any collection.
Sue Morgan, Tom Kitayama Elementary School, Union City, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. When Cesar Chavez was 10 years old, drought forced his family to leave its Arizona ranch and move to California. The family became migrant workers, poorly paid and badly treated. As an adult, Chavez organized a nonviolent revolt, culminating in a 300-mile protest march that produced the first farmworkers' contract. Krull's language demonstrates a poetic sensibility ("The eighty acres of their ranch were an island in the shimmering Arizona desert, and the stars were all their own."), but the vocabulary will challenge young children, and a few socio-cultural details aren't made clear: some kids will wonder about the "White Trade Only" signs and why Chavez couldn't speak Spanish in school. But Morales' gorgeous paintings, with their rounded, organic forms and lush, gemstone hues, more than make up for glitches as they draw children deeply into an inspiring picture-book account of a young boy who grew up to change the world. Traci Todd
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Series: Pura Belpre Honor Book. Illustrator (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st Ed. edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152014373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152014377
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written book enhanced immeasurably by Yuyi Morales' vivid, mural-like illustrations (done with acrylics, handmade stamps, and computer-created cutouts). Morales' tableaux display swirling designs, bold colors, and expressive faces to portray the joys and struggles described in Kathleen Krull's narrative. It's not a preachy book, but relies instead on short revealing statements of fact: "Once, after Cesar broke the rule about speaking English at all times, a teacher hung a sign on him that read, I AM A CLOWN. I SPEAK SPANISH."
The book describes the inhumane treatment of the farm workers, focusing on Chavez' own experience: "Anyone who complained was fired, beaten up, or sometimes even murdered." Some may complain that this represents a monolithic view of ALL landowners in California. Still, this is a children's book, not a history of agricultural employment in California. The author correctly points out the terrible conditions that Chavez battled through non-violence, notably the 1965 grape strike which ended with Chavez signing the first farmworker contract in American history. The book ends with a 2-page "author's note" that summarizes what Chavez accomplished. I look forward to more of Morales' work.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on November 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"César reprimió la amargura que le causaba haber perdido su hogar y empezó a trabajar junto a su familia. Era pequeño y no muy fuerte, pero un trabajador incansable. Casi cualquier cultivo era un tormento. Arrancar betabeles le desgarraba la piel entre el dedo pulgar y el índice. Los viñedos rociados con pesticidas le irritaban los ojos y le hacían difícil la respiracíon. La lechuga era lo peor de todo. Plantar lechuga con un azadón de mango corto le causaba espasmos de dolor por toda la espalda. Trabajar la tierra de otros en vez de la propia, le paracía ser una forma de eslavitud.
"La familia Chávez hablaba constantemente de ahorrar lo suficiente para poder volver a comprar su rancho. Pero al atardecer, la familia entera había ganado no más de treinta centavos por todo un día de trabajo. Conforme pasaban los años, hablaban cada vez menos del rancho."

That's right, a total of thirty cents pay for a long, backbreaking day of labor put in by the whole family!

Oh. You didn't understand that the first time because it was in Spanish? Hey! What's wrong with you?

"The towns weren't much better than the fields. WHITE TRADE ONLY signs were displayed in many stores and restaurants. None of the thirty-five schools Cesar attended over the years seemed like a safe place, either. Once, after Cesar broke the rule about speaking English at all times, a teacher hung a sign on him that read, I AM A CLOWN. I SPEAK SPANISH. He came to hate school because of the conflicts, though he liked to learn. Even he considered his eighth-grade graduation a miracle. After eighth grade he dropped out to work in the fields full-time.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lorenzo Tijerina on April 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In light of the "zero tolerance" policies maintained by most schools, conventional wisdom says parents should discourage their children from fighting or causing trouble.
Kathleen Krull's latest biography flies in the face of such convention, daring children to resist the status quo, to take a stand and to, yes, fight.
This past Saturday San Antonio honored the legacy of Cesar E. Chavez with a march to the Alamo - the mission, not the premiere. But how much do we really know about the noble migrant laborer who passed away peacefully in his sleep 11 years ago? How much do our children know about this Chicano organizer - only the second Mexican American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom?
With broad brushstrokes and soft, warm tones, Krull and illustrator Yuyi Morales paint a picture of a quiet, peaceful man who was compelled by injustice, greed and racism to overcome his own fears and insecurities.
The story begins on a summer night upon the lush, utopian, magical fields of his grandfather; family that relaxes after a long, but satisfying day working the land surrounds Cesar.
Watching young Cesar run away from school on the first day of class back to the loving embrace of his gentle mother, the reader relates, beginning to see the human being behind the legend.
To drought and depression paradise is soon lost and the Chavez family must strike out towards California to seek out new opportunities, a new Promised Land.
But Cesar finds instead an oppressive blanket of harsh reality, patched together by insecticides, calluses, short-handled hoes and pennies a day for backbreaking work. After many brutal hours under the unrelenting sun his family returns to a shack with no doors in an overcrowded shantytown.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In her author's note, Kathleen Krull points out that Cesar Chavez continues to remain a controversial figure in the United States today. The fact of the matter is, he followed perfectly in the footsteps of the men he admired; St. Francis of Assisi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and Gandhi. Helping to lead migrant workers in the first successful agricultural strike the U.S. had ever known, he is best remembered worldwide as a hero. In her book, Krull follows Chavez from a happy early childhood in Arizona to an unpleasant shift to the fields of California. As we watch, Cesar grows from a boy forced to endure the humiliations of the fields (and the poor schooling as well) to a man capable to leading workers in a non-violent protest against the grape growers of Southern California. Especially impressive are the ways in which Krull ties in young Cesar's lessons about life (his mother cautioning him to use one's head to work through conflicts) with their actual implementation years later. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales, the book looks like nothing so much as Jonah Winter's fabulous biography of Frida Kahlo. Beautiful surreal images meld with sweeping panoramas of a life of difficulty. You'll find yourself reading it over and over again just to look at the pretty pictures.
The fact of the matter is, there's not a single misstep in this book. Anyone familiar with the previous Pura Belpre winner, "Esperanza Rising" will see that this book succeeds where "Esperanza" was apt to fail. But, quite frankly, it's unfair to compare the two. Fiction will always pale in comparison to well-written non-fiction. In this book you have an honest story told simply with an elegance all its own.
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