Posts Tagged ‘pam munoz ryan’

Ryan, P.M.  (2000).  Esperanza Rising.  New York, NY: Scholastic.2002 Pura Belpre Author Award2001 ALA Notable Children’s BookInterest Level: 5-8Reading Level: 6.2Genre: Realistic Fiction, Historical FictionSubjects: Mexican Americans, Agricultural laborers, California, Family, Migrants

Ryan, P.M. (2000). Esperanza Rising. New York, NY: Scholastic.
2002 Pura Belpre Author Award
2001 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 6.2
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Subjects: Mexican Americans, Agricultural laborers, California, Family, Migrants

“Did you know that when you lie down on the land, you can feel it breathe?” – Papa

Thirteen year old Esperanza Ortega leaves her ranch home in Aquascalientes, Mexico and life of luxury after her Papa dies in a fire set by her two uncles so they can have the land and hopefully one will marry Esperanza’s mother. For Esperanza, her mother, and her Abuelita (grandmother) this is not a life any of them desire. Esperanza and her mother are able to escpae as migrants to the United States in the cover of night, but unfortunately must leave Abuelita behind. When they arrive in Arden, Califonria during the great depression of the 1930’s, they make due with residence with Miguel, the son of a previous worker for Esperanza’s Papa. Esperanza thrown from luxury to now a life of poverty and manual labor her adjustments aren’t easy, but she learns to take care of the house chores and the two babies. When Esperanza’s mother falls ill with Central Valley Fever, Esperanza begins working the farms to pay for her mother’s medical bills and saving money to help bring her Abuelita to California. Miguel, a family friend steals Esperanza’s money to go to Mexico and bring Esperanza’s Abuelita to the United States to help lift the spirits of Esperanza’s sick mother. As hope was restored to Esperanza and her mother, Esperanza learns that wealth is not only determined by material goods, but family, friends, health, home, and gratitude.

Esperanza Rising offers historical and cultural events for readers to learn and experience as they follow along with the daily experience of Mexican immigrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley in California with the dreams of a better life than previously in Mexico, and the inequalities of living conditions between Okies (migrant workers from Oklahoma) and the Mexicans were astonishing, such as the Okies having hot water and bathrooms in their housing and a swimming pool in their camp. The discriminations faced by Mexicans are shocking to read as Esperanza first experienced them, such as when Isabel was not awarded the Queen of May because she was not white. In the story the reader learns about the “voluntary” deportation of Mexicans regardless if United States citizens or not during the early 1900’s and Esperanza Rising is a wonderful book to read in conjunction with teaching these historical events.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan has a very beautiful message regarding family values as well as non-family showing empathy for others and can teach the idea of how racial stereotypes can occur in many forms and cause great suffering. Reading personal stories, which may often occur in fiction format, can emotionally affect the reader as Esperanza Rising successfully does by providing the reader with insight to the pains of individuals from diverse cultures. Other similar realistic fiction titles for tween include Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Yee, L. (2003). Millicent Min, girl genius. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 5.7
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Subjects: Gifted children, friendship, Chinese Americans, Diaries, School, Volleyball.

The smarter you are the harder it can be.

Millie learned to read when she was only three years old and by the time she entered kindergarten she was kicked out because she was too smart. She started high school when she was only 10-years-old, managed to skip another grade and will be graduating high school next school year. Currently, Millie is only 11-years-old, literally a genius, or that’s what the tests say. She can excel beyond that of even current college students but totally clueless when it comes to a social life.

Millie is often left out, not for any logical reason she can comprehend but rather she’s disliked for breaking and setting new grading curves that every other student older than her must meet. Because of it, almost no one wants her as a friend. She’s ecstatic when a student at the local community college becomes her friend for the sole reason to use Millie to do her psychology homework. How will Millie ever fit in? All is about to change when her mother decides it’s time for her to do something her own age. Her mom signs her up for volleyball camp where she meets Emily who is new to town. Being a little overweight Emily knows what being different can be like. Millie who wants to give being “normal” a try, realizes she has to pretend to be someone she’s not. And, when she has to tutor Stanford Wong who doesn’t want anyone to know he’s being tutored by Millie, and both Emily and Stanford start liking one another everything becomes all the more complicated. Emily misunderstands when she sees the two at the library during one study session. Emily believes Stanford is tutoring Millie. This actually helps Millie keep up her disguise of not being a genius and Stanford for once is viewed as smart and likes it. Through ups and downs, normal Emily and genius Millie learn that BFF’s is possible.

This is a fun, quirky and heartwarming story that anyone who’s ever felt smarter than the average person may be able to easily relate to. But also, anyone for whatever reason has been labeled as a social outcast will be able to identify with. Millicent Min, Girl Genius is an excellent book for tweens. It’s a good book that teaches the importance of trust, honesty, and empathy as you read how everything gets more and more complicated between Stanford, Millie, and Emily. If you like Millicent Min, Girl Genius then you may also want to read other Lisa Yee books such as; So Totally Emily Ebers and Stanford Wong Flunks Out Big Time. All three of these Lisa Yee books can be read in any order as each book individually tells the events of the summer from the point of view of either Millie, Emily, or Stanford. You may also enjoy reading Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan, Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass, and The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng.