School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 1-3-Chico's family leads a nomadic existence, following California's crops. Places don't have names but rather are associated with whatever fruit or vegetable is being harvested. The story begins as they arrive at a place simply identified as "a camp in grapes." Chico is understandably apprehensive about starting third grade at yet another new school because his previous experiences involved bullying and name calling. He meets an intimidating bus driver and a kind teacher, gets a chance to display his excellent math skills, makes new friends, and has a playground face-off with some notorious bullies. With enough positives to compensate for the challenges, the child finishes his first day of the school year with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Reminiscent of Francisco Jimenez's La Mariposa (Houghton, 1998; o.p.), this story also sheds light on the life of migrant children in a poignant, balanced manner. While some of the hardships are left unexplored, this title will serve as a launching point for discussions about the migrant experience. Although a bit static, the watercolor, colored-pencil, and pastel illustrations bring warmth and color to this portrait of life in rural California.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Gr. 1^-3. Growing up in a migrant family, Chico has experienced first school days in artichokes and first days in onions, and "now his first day in third grade would be in grapes." His encounters with bullies and the grumpy school bus driver shake Chico's confidence, but a friendly classmate and an understanding teacher help him adjust. In fact, Ms. Andrews admires his remarkable math talent and invites Chico to compete in the Math Fair. When the bullies return at lunch, Chico stands up to them and challenges them with math questions until they retreat, and the day ends with an upbeat bus ride home. The quick resolution with the school bullies strains credibility, but the rest of the story rings true. Realistic watercolor, pastel, and colored-pencil illustrations are especially adept at portraying Chico's emotions. His story will resonate with migrant students and those who have moved frequently. For others, it's an insightful glimpse of another way of life and a reminder that different kids have different talents. --Linda Perkins