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La Mariposa

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  184 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
In his first year of school, Francisco understands little of what his teacher says. But he is drawn to the silent, slow-moving caterpillar in the jar next to his desk. He knows caterpillars turn into butterflies, but just how do they do it? To find out, he studies the words in a butterfly book so many times that he can close his eyes and see the black letters, but he still ...more
Paperback, 40 pages
Published September 26th 2000 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1998)
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A beautiful, painterly picture book from Francisco Jimenez, with illustration by Simon Silva, that depicts an immigrant boy's first-grade experiences at school. Isolated because of his inability to understand English, Francisco turns inward to his imagination and later to drawing to escape his situation. He takes comfort in watching and caring for a caterpillar his teacher has placed in a jar near his seat. We follow his struggles to fit in, but we celebrate his triumph, as he discovers his artw ...more
Margaret Chind
Nov 23, 2015 marked it as hardcopy-review-to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2nd-grade
Own pbk. 11/23/15 pbs
Scarlett Bridges
This book is about a boy, Francisco, who is from Mexico and is starting the first grade in America. As he gets to the school on the bus with his brother, he gains a headache due to the increasing volume of kids speaking English and Francisco not being able to understand. Once he gets settled in his classroom, next to his desk there is a caterpillar, which becomes his salvation throughout the school year. He is unable to understand his teacher, or his classmates, which gives him headaches, so ins ...more
RLL22017Necole Jordan
I enjoyed reading this book. It has great illustrations. The illustrations are rich. The book is about a boy named Francisco who enters the 1st grade, but does not speak or understand English. While he is at school the only thing he does understand are the names. During class he often imagined flying away over the fields to work with his dad because of the language barrier. He looks at a caterpillar that's kept in a jar in the classroom. Art becomes his favorite subject and the caterpillar becom ...more
Carrie Tahlor
La Mariposa is a work of realistic fiction written by Francisco Jimenez, a Mexican American author, and illustrated by Simon Silva, a Mexican American illustrator. While a little on the longer side, the story's rich plot and beautiful illustrations will keep children engaged. This story follows the journey of a Mexican immigrant child struggling to learn English, overcome the bullying and misunderstandings that arise due to a lack of communication, and the ultimate triumph of friendship and acce ...more
Kelsey Yeakle
"La Mariposa" is a wonderful book to share with English Language Learners. A young boy moves from Mexico to start first grade in America. However, his inability to understand the English language results in him feeling lonely and isolated in school. While reading this book, it reminded me of a student I worked with once who had just moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. She also did not speak English well, but it always made me happy seeing the other children still trying to include her i ...more
Megan Cureton
La Mariposa is a story about a young Hispanic boy named Francisco that is attending school and doesn't understand any English. He goes to school and comes home every day with a headache because he just sits there and listens to a teacher spill words out of her mouth that doesn't make any sense to him. He starts to drift off in class, even though his dad says that is disrespectful. He stares at the class caterpillar and imagines him flying around his dad in the farm and hanging with him. He's rea ...more
La Mariposa
Written by Francisco Jimenez; Illustrated by Simon Silva
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Company, NY, NY 1998
Approx. Interest Level: Grade 2-4

This story revolves around a young boy, who is a native Spanish speaker, and how he copes with living in a culture that he is struggling to understand. In this story, Francisco, the young boy, struggles to understand English and loses interest in school while increasing his interest in a classroom caterpillar, which is the only thing he can connec
Angela Hutchinson
In this book, a boy named Francisco is starting the first grade and cannot speak any English. He is struggling in the classroom because he cannot understand anything the teacher is saying. So, he just decides to daydream because listening to the teacher had started giving him headaches. Francisco really enjoyed art class because he could draw anything that he wanted to. One day, the teacher hung one of his drawings up in the board for the class to see, but soon it just disappeared. Francisco has ...more
Elnara Browers
Summary: A young boy, Francisco, moves with his family to the United States. He does not speak English which causes a turmoil for him, bullying by some, lack of understanding from the school's staff. Finally, Francisco discovers his latent for drawing which serves as a bridge between him and the school.
Genre: autobiography
mentor writing trait(s):
Sentence fluency (sentence length is consistent), organization (build-up of the story), voice (author addresses the readers and tells a personal story)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In La Mariposa, Francisco Jimenez recalls a time when immigrants were forbidden to speak in their native languages in schools in order to encourage them to assimilate. The folk art and autobiographical text portray a migrant child's perspective, from the different physical and social environments of home and school to the overwhelming, indecipherable cacophony of a new language. La mariposa, the butterfly, represents the natural world which is usually of intrinsic interest to all children. Franc ...more
Alison Durbin
I thought that this story was incredibly touching. I loved how I was forced to put myself in the shoes of Francisco, as well as other ELL children when they come to an English speaking classroom for the first time. This took me back to my practicum experience last semester when I had an ELL student. Like Francisco, he was in first grade and had an older brother that would help translate for him. Also like Francisco, he was silent for awhile until he felt comfortable enough to speak. The stories ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: k-4
What brought my attention to this picture book was the fact that I have read all of Francisco Jimenez memoirs. I remember reading The Circuit when I was in fifth grade and it literally made me analyze my identity as a first generation Mexican American. I loved how relatable this picture book becomes to English Language learners who might have parents that migrate each year because of their jobs. It's also a book in English with Spanish words so it can teach kids either Spanish or English. I real ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I read this book, I felt so much sympathy for the main character Francisco for not being able to understand anything his teacher said. There is a language barrier for many students who are not native English speakers and they might not have the desire to learn due to the simple fact that they do not know the main language that is spoken in school. The metaphor in the story compares Francisco’s journey of learning English to a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. It takes time, but it wi ...more
Daniel L.
Having read "The Circuit" by the same author, I was eager to read "La Mariposa" to my younger students. Francisco Jimenez creates beautifully written semi-autobiographical stories about life as a child of a family of migrant farmers from Mexico. The the eyes of the main character, Francisco, we experience a child's first day in a new school, where he is the object of stares and, at the hands of a bully, ridicule. However, Francisco is a dreamer, and he conveys his dreams through beautiful pictur ...more
I like how this book tells the perspective on an ELL student. If I get an ELL student, I might read this book to my students. This book will also help us study different cultures. I did not really enjoy the illustrations, but they did help the story. I did not understand why the teacher and Curtis suddenly changed to become supportive of Francisco at the end of the story. If this story took place in my classroom, I would encourage Arthur to translate for Francisco and for me. I am so happy that ...more
The first thing that I noticed about this book was that it would not be a good book for a read aloud because there is a lot of text, but not a lot of pictures. However, it was still an amazing story. I think this book would be of great use in a classroom with ELL children because it would not only get the other children to know how ELL children feel not knowing the primary language of the classroom, but it might also help the ELL children feel more welcomed because it is something they can relat ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I liked how this book incorporated some Spanish words. I think the students would enjoy reading a book dealing with a culture that could be different from their own. The only thing I did not like about this book was the fact that the teacher would not let him speak Spanish in the classroom. I don't think that would be a good message to the students. All students have a right to speak their native language in the classroom. They should feel comfortable to speak to the teacher and their classmate ...more
Elines Flores
This book puts one in the mind of someone else, showing their struggles and eagerness to just understand what is going around them. I have seen many times in my practicum experience when students are "forgotten" and left to struggle with the language barrier used as the excuse. At the beginning, I felt for the boy, being a spanish speaker myself, and understood how he felt. Then at the end all it took was a simple butterfly to break a barrier and start a relationship with the student (pure joy).
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
This is taken from his larger book "the circuit". To be honest, I did not get the message of 'the transformation in the life of a young bicultural, bilingual child...'. To me, this was a story of a young child struggling in a school that could/would not provide bilingual teaching or ESL. This poor child wasted a whole year in first grade - I realize that at the time, the point was to immerse the child in English so that they would learn English faster, however, the social isolation and the stude ...more
Chelsea Bucci
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: esol-books
It is Francisco's first year at school in an English speaking classroom. He only knows a little bit of English which limits his understanding of what his teacher says to the class. During the school day, he is intrigued by a catepillar that sits in a jar next to his desk. He decides to devote all of his energy into learning how a catepillar turns into a butterfly. This story addresses the struggles ELL learners face while they are learning a new language. It also shows how imaginative children c ...more
Kelly Powell
What a brilliant story to introduce to students telling the life of a student that may be like another student in their class or someone they may know in the future. Too many times students are pushed aside because they don’t know how to do something in school, but as a teacher this book reminded me to be the driving for in helping each and every child learn what they need to in order to succeed. This book is not only a great book for students, but for any age because of the great and relatable ...more
Jessica Gin
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: text-set
This is a story about a young boy named Francisco who becomes disengaged with school, due to a language barrier. He speaks Spanish and cannot understand what is going on in class, and quickly becomes discouraged and loses interest. A catepillar captures his attention, which inspires him to read a book about how catepillar’s become butterflies. This is a story about overcoming obstacles and assimilation.
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americas-award
This story becomes more meaningful to the reader once you come to find out that this is an autobiographical account of the author's experience in 1st grade. A boy who comes into a classroom with limited language proficiency. A great perspective on how a student feels by not being able to express himself and not feeling like he belongs. Great for grades 3 and up, but can be a read aloud for any age.
Brent Rogers
This story is about a young boy who is a native Spanish speaker and how he copes with living in a culture that he is struggling to understand. The boy struggles to understand English and does not have an interest in school, but does enjoy the class caterpillar. This would not be a good read-aloud because it has a lot of text and not enough pictures. This would be a good book for a new student who is having trouble adapting to a new world. I really like this book!
I absolutely loved this book. I loved it for the fact that it was a true story and that the same treatment of immigrant children is still seen in some schools today. I loved how Francisco begins to want to learn English through the nurturing and drawing of a butterfly. I would read this to my student to show that it is important to treat others with open arms and kindness no matter where they come from. I would also stress the importance of friendships.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was such a wonderful representation of what it is like for a child entering a classroom that cannot speak any of the language. I felt for the young man who could not understand anything that was being said around him. The pictures add so much to the story, and are so beautifully done. I loved this book, and will ensure that it is my own classroom to help all children understand just what it is like to enter a classroom, and not be able to communicate with those around them.
Katie Nanney
The book reminded me of how difficult it is for immigrant students to adjust to living in another country. I felt sorry for little first-grade Francisco trying to adjust to a new country and a new school. The book teaches the importance of reaching out to others and finding your passions, even when in overwhelming situations. I would recommend this book to anyone 1st grade and up. It's not a good read aloud book for kindergarten, but anyone who can read this book should.
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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
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