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The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child
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The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

(Francisco #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  4,784 ratings  ·  647 reviews
These independent but intertwined stories follow a migrant family through their circuit, from picking cotton and strawberries to topping carrots - and back again - over a number of years. As it moves from one labor camp to the next, the little family of four grows into ten. Impermanence and poverty define their lives. But with faith, hope, and back-breaking work, the famil ...more
Paperback, 146 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by University of New Mexico Press (first published November 30th 1996)
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Phil Canalin Yes, I think he will be, but he will continue to study and read and if he has a family, his children will not be migrant workers.

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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,784 ratings  ·  647 reviews

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Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Samira lopes

I just finished reading The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez. it’s a fiction book of a young boy named Francisco and his family. The theme of this book is “ sometimes it takes the things that you never expected to get what you want”.

This book is about a seven year old boy named Francisco and his family. Francisco’s Mexican family consists of him, his older brother Roberto, his mother, and father. His family is from El Rancho Blanco and doesn’t have a wealthy life so they immigrate to t
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Circuit
The Circuit has stories from the life of an immigrant child. It is an autobiographical novel by Francisco Jimenez based in part on his journey from Mexico to the United States of America.
The book is narrated from the child’s point of view and follows the life of young Panchito and his family as they move from one location to another to harvest crops in the United States. This book give me a lot of new words in English. I think the people should be read this book , because the sto
I've never read anything that was as close to my own family's immigrant experience as this. My father wasn't a migrant farmer, but the work ethic of Panchito's parents is so similar to my dad's. And Panchito's experience going to school and learning English so mirrored my experience that it was almost uncanny. So many things about this book reminded me of being seven and new in this country.
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much it made me return to Goodreads after a long absence just because I wanted to tell people about it. I don't want to raise expectations too much because maybe not everyone would love it, but I do. It's an autobiographical novel written by Francisco Jimenez who is currently a professor at Santa Clara University but who was born in Mexico and came to California with his family as migrant farm laborers. It is poignant, moving, and eye-opening without being depressing. It aff ...more
Sometimes, on the weekend, I take about 8 books off my shelves that I have never even dipped into at all, sit down with a cup of tea and a blanket, and read the first 15-20 pages of each book. The result: I usually end up with a priority-ordered stack of what I most want to continue reading right now and work my way through the top of that stack until I hit reader's block again for whatever reason. (It's hitting me a lot this year.) This weekend's stack had an unlikely winner: The Circuit: Stori ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
it was a good book
Noah Goats
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely collection of bitter sweet stories about the experiences of a family of Mexican Migrant workers in California.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rebecca by: ESL Students
After being hounded by a few students to read this book, I have finally taken it upon myself to do so.

I understand fully why so many of my ESL/ELL students made the recommendation. First, Jimenez speaks to the reality of going to school as a non-native language speaker. The fear, the frustration, the sense of incompetence. While Francisco was from Mexico, his story spoke to my students from all over the world.

Further, his dance with poverty and endless cycle of looking for work and safe shelte
Book Concierge
This slim volume packs an extraordinary emotional punch. The stories Jimenez relates are autobiographical, depicting the life he and his family led as migrant workers in 1940s California. Told from the perspective of the second son in a strong, loving family, the stories carry the reader through about eight years of working “the circuit.”

What I particularly like about the book is that while Jimenez doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties of this life, he doesn’t dwell on the negatives, either. Yes,
Alexa Garcia
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book "The Circuit", is a really good book about a migrant child who comes to the USA illegally, and is now facing the troubles as an immigrant.This is a book with many short stories.I personally think that this book is really sad and the ending is...from my opinion really strong and powerful.This book is mostly kind of "challenging", because it has a lot of challenging words in spanish and I did have to search up some words on google to find its meaning (LOL).I would recommend this book to a ...more
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book would be one of my favorites in my bookshelf.
I enjoyed and thrilled reading this story.

Panchito illegally crossed the border between America and Mexico with his parents and 2 brothers. They struggled making money and surviving with the big family working at the several crop fields. This story was sort of making me think about the education is one of the ways to make a change in our lives. Gladly I now study in college and have an opportunity to obtain my thrived future hopefully. Anyho
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This children’s book follows the narrative arc of the Grapes of Wrath fairly closely and I read it as a potential supporting read for younger high school students. From that perspective, the narrative becomes a bit too focused on the young protagonist’s personal life. The second half focused more on his sister stealing his coin collection to buy gum or who is allowed to join the neighbourhood boys in a game of kick the can.

The perspective of the undocumented farm worker is important and I like
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved these sweet stories from the author's childhood working with his family as migrant workers in the fields in California. I was rooting for him as he faced awkward situations and crossed boundaries.

It's a quick read, and worth the trouble to track it down. If you can get your hands on a copy, I think everyone I know would enjoy this little book. I would also recommend it for middle reader children.
Lawrence Jaimes
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Cajas De Carton" or "The circuit" is a autobiographical novel by Francisco Jimenez that narrates Francisco's life as a illegal immigrant with his parents I rate this book a 5 out 5 because it is really good and motivational.

The book has many different settings and repeats them multiple times a few of the settings are the cotton camps strawberry camps that Francisco and his family have to travel to make money as they travel from camp to camp trying to make a stable income. Also, the parents have
Misty Galbraith
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poignant series of books illustrating growing up in a Mexican migrant worker family. The stories are well written and enjoyable! Eye opening and good for all of us to read to broaden our awareness of how those tasty strawberries make it from the field to our dinner table! Gave me a better appreciation and understanding of another segment of our “American” culture.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Imagine the borderline of California is the best place on earth. Imagine visualizing friends and family members dying to the guards. Imagine finally breaking through the gates and into the United States of America. That was life for Roberto and his family. Poor. Deprived. Dejected. It all started when Roberto's family waiting countless hours for the guards can move from the crack. Hour 7 goes by Albero's dad rushes for the fence and opens the creek for the family to go. They are as silent as a n ...more
Joel Alfaro
This book by Francisco Jimenez is 12 stories about his childhood. The story begins with young Francisco leaving Mexico to migrate with his family to the United States. The stories tell about his life as a migrant worker working the back breaking circuit. The circuit is what migrant workers do as they follow the crops from farm to farm to pick the various fruits and vegetables. The stories from his childhood range from sad to funny to heartbreaking. The stories tell many interesting aspects of hi ...more
Katherine Cuevas
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“The Circuit-stories from the life of a migrant child” is a magnificent book that describes the difficult childhood of an innocent kid. The story came from a family that moved from Mexico to United States. Two parents and three brothers compose the beginning of the book. Francisco Jimenez, the second of the brothers and the author of the book explains how is live without a permanent home and currently money. With hope to have a better life, lives this family. Logos, pathos, and ethos appeal in t ...more
Jose Ulloa
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fiction book about a boy named Francisco and his family and all the
troubles that they had to go through just to be able to some what survive in this world in some of
the worst possible ways that someone can live under. The book goes to show what an immigrant
family will do just to survive a example of this is how the mom, dad, and Roberto his older brother work picking cotton and strawberry having to move consistently from labor camp to labor camp for years. In search of a better li
Phil Jensen
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a short story collection, it's one of the strongest I've read. As a novel, it's a bit disjointed. Many of the short stories, such as "Inside Out" are acknowledged classics. Others, such as "Christmas Gift" and "Learning the Game," are underappreciated gems. A few, such as "Under the Wire" and "Soldedad" are just okay.

At his best, Jimenez' style is restrained and focused. Images are chosen carefully and used with impact. Small details are symbolic of the entire passage. It is clear from its ex
Sunday Cummins
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
The content about life as migrant workers stands in stark contrast to the conditions described in Esperanza Rising. Living in barns. Living in shacks where they covered the floor with card board. Strapping the one family mattress to the top of the car every time they moved from one camp to another. The struggle to learn in just a few months of school every year and one missed opportunity after another. (from Amazon)

Pages I marked with unfamiliar cultural info -
Cantinflas - a movie character I'v
Dec 10, 2013 is currently reading it
the circuit tells the story of Francisco Jimenez and his family. A terrified big family that wants to create a better life in California. the book is set in Mexico and a work place near California, where immigrant workers would go to get paid. wanting nothing more than for his family to have a better life, Francisco must help work, even though he has school work. doing everything possible to help out his family, working, studying, babysitting, Francisco helps out anyway he possibly can. the boo ...more
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Grade/Interest Level: Upper Elementary, Middle School
Lexile Leve: 880L
Genre: Autobiography, Multicultural Lit
Main Characters: Panchito, mother, father, brothers
Setting: California
POV: Panchito

This book is a collection of short stories that follows the life Francisco’s family. They have illegally crossed the border from Mexico to search for a better life. The family does manual labor on various fields for a number of years. The stories are told through Francisco’s (Panchito) eyes. We are told o
Vanessa Maeda
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Main Characters: Francisco, Mama, Papa, and Roberto
Setting: various areas in California
POV: 1st person- Francisco


In this book, Francisco describe the hardships and struggles him and his family faced as they emigrated from Mexico to California to find work in the fields. Francisco shares the experiences of finding work, being frequently displaced, as well as being underpaid and mistreated migrant workers. Throughout this piece of literature, Francisco and his family have problems back to
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this for my class on Boys and Literacy. I plan to pair this non-fiction book with the fiction book, Crossing the Wire, by Will Hobbs, that I recently read. This book, Circuit, is a small book of short stories from the life of a migrant child in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The stories are interesting and very eye opening. This migrant child eventually grew up to be a professor of modern languages at Santa Clara University, but his early years as the child of illegal migrant farm worker ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this one during library school as a *diversity read*. It was a great story about a boy who is a migrant laborer. The most moving part of the story is Fransisco in the fields practicing his English from a tiny notepad that he kept in his pocket while he picked in the fields with his family. Many kids in my neighborhood library have had to read this over the summer, and I love putting it in the hands of kids who have lived this experience and in those for whom this will be the only glimpse ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories told by Jiménez are all too close to those of my own family. To read the hardship and despair that his family faced was at times too much for me. I was very emotional reading his words because his accounts were truly very close to home. This book took me longer to read than it should have simply because there was too much emotion falling from the pages. To grow up as he did and to be able to over come so much was incredible. To all the families who have had to go through hardships li ...more
I want to rate this memoir of a childhood spent picking grapes, cotton, and vegetables as a Mexican illegal in California with a 5, and I still might after I read the sequels. It is well written and embellished, with well chosen, concrete images at every turn. Gritty and inspiring, it is a page turner. The ending is abrupt (I won't spoil it), so I want to continue into the next volume before making a final judgment.
Valeria Ambriz
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I liked the book I think what happens next is going to be in the other book called breaking through which I already read last year in my fifth grade class. I liked the book so much and I would like to get one of those again. It's good that Francisco dad trusted him that he can be responsible to do the cotton thing. But it was sad that in the end the immigration gets Francisco and Roberto. The good thing is that Roberto got a good jobs at the end.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Circuit 1 1 Jan 18, 2018 08:28PM  
HMSA Summer Reading: Book Review 1 2 May 07, 2017 08:57PM  
Ewww! 4 27 Jun 04, 2015 10:37AM  
What happens to Francisco after the immigrant officer takes him and Roberto away? 2 13 Feb 02, 2015 09:37PM  

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Francisco Jimenez emigrated from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, to California, where he worked for many years in the fields with his family. He received both his master's degree and his Ph.D. from Columbia University and is now chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department at Santa Clara University, the setting of much of Reaching Out. He is the award-winning author of The Circuit, Breaking Thr ...more

Other books in the series

Francisco (4 books)
  • Breaking Through
  • Reaching Out
  • Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University