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La Mariposa

by Francisco Jimenez
Illustrated by Simon Silva

Published by Houghton Mifflin, 1998
40 pages
ISBN: 0-395-81663-7

Ages 8-11

First grade for Francisco beings with an overwhelming cascade of sounds--voices speaking in a language he doesn't understand. The child of migrant farm laborers, Francisco speaks only Spanish but at his school only English is allowed. The strain of trying to pay attention gives him headaches, and sometimes he escapes the chaos by focusing on the caterpillar kept in a jar near his desk and then imagining himself flying away to visit his father at work in the fields. He wonders how long it will take the cocoon that is now in the jar to open and for a butterfly to emerge. Francisco Jiménez's eloquent short story relates how a young boy's academic and social emergence at school is hindered by the denial of his native language, and how some barriers to communication and friendship are also overcome. The story is based on events in the author's own life and was told in a slightly different version in his outstanding novel for young readers, The Circuit (University of New Mexico, 1997). Here, it is presented as a fully illustrated picture book with strong-lined, full-color, glowing artwork by Simón Silva. CCBC categories: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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