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LA MARIPOSA by Francisco Jiménez


by Francisco Jiménez & illustrated by Simón Silva

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-395-81663-7
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Held back in school because he did not speak English well enough, the author speaks of himself in the third-person to tell this autobiographical story of a school incident. Francisco is a young immigrant boy from Mexico trying to adjust to first grade in the US. Unlike the other children, Francisco wears suspenders, does not understand school bells, and can’t comprehend a word his teacher is saying. His fascination with a caterpillar in a jar leads to flights of fancy; he imagines himself flying out of the classroom and over the rows of lettuce where his father works. Difficulties include a misunderstanding that leads to a fight with classmate Curtis, and a butterfly picture, drawn by Francisco, that disappears. JimÇnez successfully captures the confusion and isolation of his protagonist in an unembellished, straightforward narration; the ending is impossibly happy, as he wins a prize for his art, makes amends with Curtis, and a newly hatched butterfly goes free. Silva’s characters are strongly outlined in black, and his robust scenes of landscapes and classrooms are rich with the oranges of the monarch, echoed in fields, sunsets, and the flannel of Francisco’s shirt. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-9)