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Featherless/Desplumado Hardcover – June 25, 2004
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3–Tomasito is having a hard time adjusting to his new school. Even though he wants to do what the other kids do, spina bifida keeps him wheelchair bound. To help him with his transition, his supportive and loving father gives him a new pet. Desplumadois a featherless bird that cannot fly. But, as Tomasito learns with the help of a new friend, there is more than one way to fly, and more than one way to play soccer. He is great at heading the ball, and as his participation and inclusion in the Fresno Flyers soccer team becomes a reality. Herrera's prose poem is a paean to those children who overcome adversity to create inclusion. Cuevas's oil illustrations, with forms surrounded by heavy black lines, work well in the soccer scenes but seem lumpy and inert in the indoor scenes, where the hues are darker and muddier. Still, this title could be used for a storytime focus on acceptance and tolerance and in ELL programs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 3. In this bilingual picture book, the text is better than the somewhat garish acrylic illustrations. Unable to walk because of his spina bifida, Tomasito feels unconnected in his new school. His father brings him a featherless parrot for company, but the boy wants nothing to do with a bird that looks so different. Eventually, Tomasito finds a place for himself on the soccer field, where he learns that one doesn't necessarily need feathers to fly. The message is heavy, but always the poet, Herrera transforms the language to depict both the boy's isolation and later his boundless joy. The Spanish offers slightly richer detail than the English: a "casita-trailer" is more descriptive, for example, than the simple trailer. An encouraging story, especially for Latino children with disabilities, who may recognize themselves and find their own ways to fly. Julie Kline
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Despulmado, the featherless bird, is a quiet character who plays a part of the story and helps Tomasito to dream of what can be in his life. However, he also helps Tomasito accept the difference that cannot change and figure out a way to do what he wants in his own way.
I think children will enjoy the illustrations. They are in deep rich colors with black outlines and many pages show texture. This story is told on each page in English and Spanish. It is a book that children will want to read again because of the illustrations and joyful, entertaining story. This author is well known for his Mexican-American books and he wrote this one to help others understand the condition spina bifida. When Tomasito plays soccer in a wheelchair with a regular soccer team that is a story that everyone needs to read.
"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles;
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary." -- Isaiah, 40:31
Tomasito, a tween (8-12) lives with his single father in a small trailer in Fresno, California. New in town from Mendota, Tomasito fears being excluded and ostracized by his peers because he has spina bifida and needs a wheelchair.
To give his son some inspiration, Tomasito's father buys him a little bird. The first things Tomasito notices about the bird is that he is featherless (desplumado) and that he has a withered leg. Tomasito wonders why on earth his Papi bought him such a bird, but his wise Papi tells him that the bird CAN fly, but in a very different way.
Meanwhile, on the school front, Tomasito is coping with a new set of kids and rules. One girl, Marlena, reaches out to him and even encourages him to join the school soccer team. She sees beyond Tomasito's wheelchair and really insists that he join the team. Tomasito thinks it over and even has a dream about flying with his bird, Desplumado.
Luckily, Tomasito takes Marlena's advice. He does join the soccer team and, once having spread his wings, so to speak, he in turn is able to love and reach out to his beautiful bird, the key to Tomasito tapping into his inner resources.
This is a beautiful book with lovely illustrations. It is written in English and Spanish so readers can get comfortable with both languages. That is also a form of cultural sharing. Tomasito's kind Papi and his friend Marlena as well as Desplumado will find permanent places in the hearts of those who read this story. This masterpiece of a book belongs in classrooms and in families.
Nathan's Wish: A Story about Cerebral Palsy is a good companion book to this gem.