First Day in Grapes
By Kirkus Reviews
Chico, the son of migrant workers, faces many first days in new schools, and today is his first day in third grade as well as his family’s first day “in grapes.” He’s not looking forward to it, partly because he is sometimes picked on by the other students, partly because they don’t teach race car driving in school. Mama points out that everyone has a job and his is school then makes sure to straighten his back before he leaves the house, a bit of encouragement that comes in handy later, when the dreaded bullying begins. Chico has an additional ace up his sleeve; while he struggles with writing English, he’s learned how to add quickly from his experience picking and packing produce. Remembering his mother’s straightening and his newly recognized math talent, he stands up to the bullies and wins the respect of his new third-grade peers. He even gets up the courage to befriend the intimidating bus driver, grouchy Old Hooch. Realistic watercolor, colored-pencil and pastel illustrations excel in conveying Chico’s emotions through facial expressions; his slightly sullen countenance as his teacher introduces him gives way to a shy smile as he realizes his seatmate just might be friendly this time . . . Chico’s success story is cheering, and will be useful in introducing some of the issues facing migrant kids.