César Chávez

author: Susan Eddy
Children’s Press, 2003
kindergarten-grade 2
Mexican American

In this short “Rookie Biography,” black-and-white archival and full-color contemporary photos combine with an easy-to-read text to tell the story of César Chávez—one of the great heroes of modern times—and the migrant farm workers whose lives he devoted his life to improve.

The photos—all of them—are evocative, portraying the dismal working and living conditions of migrant agricultural workers, strike and boycott rallies, and Chávez himself—talking with a small group of farm workers, speaking before the AFL-CIO, walking a picket line, and signing a successful agreement with perturbed-looking grape growers.

The text, which is linked to the photos, gives as much information as is possible in this format: “The farm owners were not fair to the workers. The workers did all the work, but the farm owners made all the money. Cesar knew this was not right.”

Embedded in the text are several words with pronunciation prompts: “furniture (FUR-nuh-chur),” “migrant (MY-gruhnt),” “organized (OR-guh-nized),” and “union (YOON-yuhn),” but not “tomatoes,” “eighth,” or “presidential.” I find this teeth-grindingly annoying.

However, as a series book for beginning readers—with limited text and short sentences—Cesar Chavez could have been a lot worse. Recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 12/6/13)

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