The Upside Down Boy / El niño de cabeza
By Juan Herrera
Illustrated by Elizabeth Gómez
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The Upside Down Boy is award-winning poet Juan Felipe Herrera's engaging memoir of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time.
Juanito is bewildered by the new school, and he misses the warmth of country life. Everything he does feels upside down. He eats lunch when it's recess; he goes out to play when it's time for lunch; and his tongue feels like a rock when he tries to speak English. But a sensitive teacher and loving family help him to find his voice and make a place for himself in this new world through poetry, art, and music.
Juan Felipe Herrera's playful language and the colorful, magical art of Elizabeth Gómez capture the universal experience of children entering a new school feeling like strangers in a world that seems upside down-at first.
Check out reading and craft tips created by the staff and partners of Reading to Kids, a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading.
Read about how to use picture books to teach and discuss Poet Laureate of the United States Juan Felipe Herrera.
Check out the American Immigration Council's post, "Juan Felipe Herrera Offers Insight and Inspiration into the Migrant Farmworker Experience for Youth," for more ideas.
About the Creators
is an acclaimed poet and children's book author. His first children's book, Calling the Doves, won the prestigious Ezra Jack Keats Award, and another book, The Upside Down Boy, was made into a musical for young audiences in 2004. He teaches at California State University, Fresno.
is an internationally exhibited painter, widely acclaimed for her brilliant use of color and fantastical imagery. Her artwork for The Upside Down Boy by Juan Felipe Herrera was praised for its "delightful humor" and "colorful metaphor." A native of Mexico City, she now lives in Redwood City, California, with her husband and children.