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Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

Module 7 – Informational Nonfiction/Biography/SLIS 5420


Krull, Kathleen. (2003). Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez.  (Y. Morales, Illus.) Orlando, FL: Harcourt Books.


This fascinating picture book biography is about Cesar Chavez and how he became the leader and hero of the migrant farmworker movement in the United States.  The author has done a wonderful job of portraying  the spark that ignited the fire of Cesar Chavez’s activism, as well as his personal struggles and triumphs. The book portrays how he encountered prejudice and injustice and was inspired to help others  who had struggled with the unfair treatment that migrant farmworkers received.  The grassroots movement of the National Farm Workers Association, its nonviolent philosophy and manner of protesting for social change, as well as Chavez’s influences and beliefs are woven into the story in a way that is both educational and inspiring.  The stylized illustrations are fused with vibrant color and make the story come alive.


“In her author’s note, Kathleen Krull points out that Cesar Chavez continues to remain a controversial figure in the United States today. The fact of the matter is, he followed perfectly in the footsteps of the men he admired; St. Francis of Assisi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and Gandhi. Helping to lead migrant workers in the first successful agricultural strike the U.S. had ever known, he is best remembered worldwide as a hero. In her book, Krull follows Chavez from a happy early childhood in Arizona to an unpleasant shift to the fields of California. As we watch, Cesar grows from a boy forced to endure the humiliations of the fields (and the poor schooling as well) to a man capable to leading workers in a non-violent protest against the grape growers of Southern California. Especially impressive are the ways in which Krull ties in young Cesar’s lessons about life (his mother cautioning him to use one’s head to work through conflicts) with their actual implementation years later. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales, the book looks like nothing so much as Jonah Winter’s fabulous biography of Frida Kahlo. Beautiful surreal images meld with sweeping panoramas of a life of difficulty. You’ll find yourself reading it over and over again just to look at the pretty pictures.The fact of the matter is, there’s not a single misstep in this book. Anyone familiar with the previous Pura Belpre winner, “Esperanza Rising” will see that this book succeeds where “Esperanza” was apt to fail. But, quite frankly, it’s unfair to compare the two. Fiction will always pale in comparison to well-written non-fiction. In this book you have an honest story told simply with an elegance all its own.”
Bird, Elizabeth. (2007, September 3). Labor Day Recommendations. Review of Harvesting Hope. School Library Journal. Retrieved from

I like the idea of using a group of picture books about the Civil Rights movement together in a class or library for an activity or project for older children (upper elementary, middle school, even high school) that could involve reading the books aloud (take turns being the reader), art/group projects (groups get together and talk about a cause that is important to them – each group decides on a cause and creates a slogan, banner, idea for a means of protest, etc.) and then have the groups present their projects to one another.  This type of project would be good for raising social consciousness and helping kids see how they can get involved and get creative with issues that mean something to them.

Of note:

Pura Belpre Honor Book

2004-2005 Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee


About mary's summer bookshelf

I'm studying to be a librarian at the University of North Texas and loving it. This blog is a class project and the first one I've ever written. The world of children's literature is diverse and rich. This class is opening up many worlds for me to traverse - I am a total YA fan now.

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