Under the Mesquite

By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Illustrations by

Teacher’s Guide Features: 

  • Summary and background information
  • Prereading focus questions
  • Vocabulary
  • Discussion questions
  • Comprehension questions and writing prompts
  • Ideas for reader’s response and writing activities
  • Strategies for ESL/ELL
  • Interdisciplinary activities and connections
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  1. The story is told from Lupita's perspective. How would the story have been different if it were told from Lupita's mother's perspective? Papi's perspective? Mr. Cortés' perspective? How does the perspective of the narration affect how you experience the story?

  2. Talk about the author's craft. How does Guadalupe Garcia McCall tell the story? Is the plot linear? Does she utilize flashbacks? Is there one central plot or are several plots occurring at the same time?

  3. Why do you think Guadalupe Garcia McCall decided to write this novel in verse? Why not use prose? Do you agree with her decision? Why or why not?

  4. Describe the character of Mami. What is she like? What is her relationship with Lupita like? Use examples from the text to support your answer.

  5. Why do Lupita’s friends give her a hard time about her accent (p. 78, “To Be or Not To Be Mexican”)?

  6. How does Lupita balance her Mexican heritage with her adoption of American culture?

  7. Would you ever want to be the oldest of eight siblings? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Use examples from the book to support your answer.

  8. How does Lupita change over the course of the book? Name three events or experiences that trigger this change. Are there any ways in which Lupita does not change? What are they?

  9. What are some of the major themes of the story? Use details from the text to support your answer.

  10. Do you find the characters and events in the story to be believable and relatable? Use detailed examples from the text to support your answer.

  11. How might the story have been different if Lupita's family had stayed in Mexico? How might the story have been different if it had been set in your community? What might Guadalupe Garcia McCall have had to change about the story? What do you think would stay the same?

  12. What were some of the struggles that Lupita had to face? What did you learn from Lupita's struggles? Was there a particular struggle that Lupita goes through that you identified with?

  13. Lupita spends time writing under the mesquite to help her cope with hard days. What do you do to help you manage bad days?

  14. What does the mesquite symbolize? Why do you think Guadalupe Garcia McCall chose to use this tree as a symbol in the story?

  15. How did you feel about the way Under the Mesquite ended? Were you satisfied with the ending? Why or why not


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 6 - 12

Reading Level:

Grades 6 - 7


Middle Grade, YA interest, Siblings, Sharing & Giving, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence, Responsibility, Poetry, Overcoming Obstacles, Mothers, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Immigration, Home, Families, Education, Dreams & Aspirations, Coping with Death, Conflict resolution, Poverty, Empathy/Compassion, Gratitude, Integrity/Honesty , Leadership, Optimism/Enthusiasm, Persistence/Grit, Realistic Fiction, Self Control/Self Regulation, Pride, Courage, Mexico, Texas


Poetry Middle School, Poetry High School, Diverse Background English Collection Middle School, Diverse Background English Collection High School, Latin American English Collection Middle School, Latin American English Collection High School, Realistic Fiction Middle School, Realistic Fiction High School, English Fiction Middle School, English Fiction Grades 6-12, Mexico Culture Collection, Lee & Low Poetry Collection, Sibling Collection Grades 6-12, Pura Belpré Award Collection, RITELL Middle & High School Collection , Young Adult Collection, Appendix B Diverse Collection Grades 3-6, Appendix B Diverse Collection Middle School, Indigenous People's Day/Columbus Day YA Collection, Pedro Noguera Diverse Collection Grades 6-8, Pedro Noguera Diverse Collection Grades 9-12, Women's Text Set Collection Grades PreK-8, Women's Text Set Collection Grades 6-8, Guadalupe García McCall Collection, Social and Emotional Learning Collection, Empathy Collection, Trauma-Informed Collection, High-Low Books for Teens: Middle and High School

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