The Upside Down Boy / El niño de cabeza
By Juan Felipe Herrera
Illustrated by Elizabeth Gómez
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.
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About the Creators
JUAN FELIPE HERRERA is the son of farmworkers and a graduate of UCLA, Stanford, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. During the last fifty years, he has dedicated his life to poetry, community, art and teaching. He has served as the Poetry Laureate of the United States and of California and he’s written more than thirty books across various genres. His awards include the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the LA Times Robert Kirsch Award, a Latino Hall of Fame Award, a Pushcart Prize, UCLA Chancellor’s Medal and the UC-Riverside Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in Fresno with his wife, poet Margarita Robles.
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.