Cesar Chavez is known as one of America's greatest civil rights leaders. When he led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers. But Cesar wasn't always a leader. As a boy, he was shy and teased at school. His family slaved in the fields for barely enough money to survive.
Cesar knew things had to change, and he thought that--maybe--he could help change them. So he took charge. He spoke up. And an entire country listened.
An author's note provides historical context for the story of Cesar Chavez's life.
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.
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
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