Tomas and the Library Lady
Tomas and the Library Lady

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Annotation: While helping his family in their work as migrant laborers far from their home, Tomas finds an entire world to explore in the books at the local public library.
Catalog Number: #303572
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition Date: 2000
Illustrator: Colon, Raul,
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-375-80349-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-02839-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-375-80349-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-02839-5
Dewey: E
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
From the immigrant slums of New York City to the fields of California, it's an elemental American experience: the uprooted child who finds a home in the library. Mora's story is based on a true incident in the life of the famous writer Tomas Rivera, the son of migrant workers who became an education leader and university president. Far from his home in Texas, the small boy is working with his family picking corn in Iowa. Inspired by the Spanish stories his grandfather (Papa Grande tells, Tomas goes to the library to find more stories. The librarian welcomes him into the cool, quiet reading room and gives him books in English that he reads to himself and to his family. He teaches her some Spanish words. Then, as in so many migrant stories, the boy must leave the home he has found. He has a new, sad word for her, adios It means goodbye. Colon's beautiful scratchboard illustrations, in his textured, glowingly colored, rhythmic style, capture the warmth and the dreams that the boy finds in the world of books. The pictures are upbeat; little stress is shown; even in the fields, the kids could be playing kick ball or listening to stories. Perhaps the most moving picture is that of the child outside the library door, his face pressed against the pane. In contrast is the peaceful space he finds inside, where he is free to imagine dinosaurs and wild adventure. (Reviewed Aug. 1997)
Horn Book
In a story inspired by the life of Tomas Rivera, a migrant worker who became a nationally known educator, young Tomas and his family, migrant farm workers, leave Texas for work in Iowa, where Tomas discovers the wonder of books at the local library. Colón's scratchboard illustrations convey the magic of reading and of telling stories, but give little sense of the time period or poverty of Tomas's life.
Kirkus Reviews
A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Toms Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Toms likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Toms finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Toms reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Toms's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Coln's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered. (Picture book. 7-10)"
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4--Tomas Rivera, who at his death in 1984 was the Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, grew up in a migrant family. Here, Mora tells the fictionalized story of one summer in his childhood during which his love of books and reading is fostered by a librarian in Iowa, who takes him under her wing while his family works the harvest. She introduces him to stories about dinosaurs, horses, and American Indians and allows him to take books home where he shares them with his parents, grandfather, and brother. When it is time for the family to return to Texas, she gives Tomas the greatest gift of all--a book of his own to keep. Colon's earthy, sun-warmed colors, textured with swirling lines, add life to this biographical fragment and help portray Tomas's reading adventures in appealing ways. Stack this up with Sarah Stewart and David Small's The Library (Farrar, 1995) and Suzanne Williams and Steven Kellogg's Library Lil (Dial, 1997) to demonstrate the impact librarians can have on youngsters.--Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (8/1/97)
Horn Book (4/1/97)
ILA Teacher's Choice Award
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Word Count: 1,216
Reading Level: 2.7
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 2.7 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 17742 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.5 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q13217
Lexile: 500L

A Common Core Exemplar Text by an award-winning author-illustrator team

Tomás is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather's wonderful stories. But before long, Tomás knows all the stories by heart. "There are more stories in the library,"Papa Grande tells him.  The very next day, Tomás meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him. 

Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries--and education--can make possible.  Raul Colón's warm, expressive paintings perfectly interweave the harsh realities of Tomás's life, the joyful imaginings he finds in books, and his special relationships with a wise grandfather and a caring librarian.  

"A gentle text and innovative artwork. . . . While young readers and future librarians will find this an inspiring tale, the end note gives it a real kick: the story is based on an actual migrant worker [Tomás Rivera] who became chancellor of a university--where the library now bears his name."--Publishers Weekly


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