Harvesting Hope: The story of Cesar Chavez. New York: Harcourt, Inc.
Interest Rating: !!!
Today marks the beginning of Latino History Month. I would have made an effort of emphasizing Latino and Chicano children's literature, but let me be honest here...I didn't plan ahead enough. So, I'm only doing this book review...but it's about Cesar Chavez, who was full of awesomeness!!!!!!!! And Harvesting Hope was a Belpre honor book (the ALA's narrative and illustrator awards for Latino writers and illustrators).
Harvesting Hope is a picturebook biography of Cesar Chavez, the founded of the Nation Farm Workers Association, worked tirelessly to obtain rights for migrant farm workers and helped trigger the Chicano rights movement. This story follows his life from childhood to late in his life, emphasizing his peaceful protests.
The illustrations are bright and colorful with many wavy lines that reflect traditional latino culture. But what I really like about this picturebook biography is how much Chavez's childhood is emphasized. Krull makes a point of mentioning that little Cesar was nervous for school to start and the discrimination he faced in American schools.
This picturebook is on the text-heavy side, so I do recommend using it with middle grade readers or as a shared read aloud.
Harvesting Hope can be used in social studies classes in lessons on civil rights movements and peaceful protesting (His philosophies could be emphasized, since they parallel the ideas of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.).
This book could also trigger discussion on discrimination, outside the classroom and within. If appropriate, a teacher could also encourage a discussion on how it feels to have multiple language in one classroom or learning English as a second language. It could be an opportunity for students to give voice to their worries or problems.
Quotes of Note:
"Until Cesar Chavez was ten, every summer night was like a fiesta."
"Cesar was stubborn, but he was not a fighter. His mother cautioned her children against fighting, urging them to use their minds and mouths to work out conflicts."
"Cesar's old life had vanished. Now he and his family were migrants--working on other people's farms, crisscrossing California, picking whatever fruits and vegetables were in season."
"Nonviolence," he said, "takes more guts." It meant using imagination to find ways to overcome powerlessness."