First Day in Grapes

By School Library Journal

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 Jiménez’s La Mariposa, 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… [T]he watercolor, colored-pencil, and pastel illustrations bring warmth and color to this portrait of life in rural California.