All the Things

A blog by Holly Papa.

La Mariposa by Francisco Jimenez Illustrated by Simon Silva

by | Oct 30, 2008 | Blog | 5 comments

I first heard of this book when our local library advertised a presentation by Book-It Repertory Theatre. We love library activities, so we made sure to note the date and make plans to attend. The day of the presentation we arrived to find that the library wasn’t big enough to hold all the people who wanted to participate, so they had arranged to move it next door to the City Hall. My children were excited- how can you blame them after a summer of no story times? They did participate in summer reading which was rewarding in its own way, but due to numerous out-of-town adventures and swimming lessons, we missed story time and my kids love story time.

The three actors introduced themselves and explained that the presentation would be presented bilingually- which didn’t phase any of the children present la mariposa(our schools are upwards of 90% migrant/immigrant Latino children and everyone is used to hearing both languages). The curtains were pulled aside and we were transported to a Mexican migrant camp in California where Francisco is preparing for his first day of school. So many of the ‘1st day of school’ concerns that were mentioned transcend all boundaries as well as the excitement of riding the bus to school for the very first time! We were all empathetic when the actors portrayed the very real and disconcerting experience it was for Francisco to enter a world where the only word he understood was his own name. The actors communicated this superbly when slipping easily from ‘Fransisco’ into Charlie Brown phone speak (blah, blah, blah) to ‘Francisco’ and back again. I was especially pleased to have my children get a glimpse into what it is like for many of their class-mates who start sometimes in the middle of the year, having just arrived or returned from Mexico (or somewhere else south of the border) and who know very little, if any, English.

La Mariposa will give anyone who is open to learning, a glance into a common American immersion experience that teaches children to transcend the boundaries of race and status and find a common beauty that pulls us all together. In this case, the beauty that pulls Francisco’s class together is a butterfly- a thread that is woven throughout the book and play. My highest praise goes to the wonderful actors who piqued my interest in this autobiographical children’s story. The book, wonderful on its own merits, became even better when transferred to the stage.

As a side note, my middle child came home from school today having colored pictures of friends in school. To my surprise, all the children in the picture were brown- including mine! As one of only two or three non-latino anglo children in that class, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there is no perceived difference- children really are immune to prejudice until they are taught!

If you want to help promote literacy, please consider making a donation to the Quincy Public Library new building fund. For more information, call 509-787-2359 or email Schiree Ybarra, the librarian supervisor, at


  1. Schiree Ybarra

    I agree, this was a great story! We were very lucky to have Book It Theatre to perform it for us.

  2. caribookscoops

    Yeah! We had our first comment. Schiree should get a prize. Sounds like a great book and a great program.

  3. Kim Buhler

    I enjoyed reading your blogs on books. Do you have any reccomendations for 5th grade girls?


  4. caribookscoops

    Great question. What are you looking for? Strong girl characters and specific genres? Off the top of my head is Rapunzel’s Revenge, a graphic novel which will be doing for our first double scoop hopefully next week. Also by Shannon Hale is the Princess Academy and some of her others. Another I really like is Alanna the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. When I get a chance I’ll write some more.

  5. hollybookscoops

    Thanks for reading our blog- and on Halloween too, so far one of the busiest days of the school year! I would highly recommend the Land of Elyon series I can’t remember the author’s name just now- I’ll get back to you on that. There are 3 books in the series and the author just published some other books that are tied to the series.

    Also, when I was in 5th grade my favorite book was The Secret Garden and it was especially fun to read out loud with friends and imitate accents. Maybe they use SG in 4th grade now since children just keep getting smarter! Let us know what types of interests your 5th grader has and we can dig up more material for you.



  1. Breaking Through by Fransisco Jimenez « Bookscoops - [...] he picked it, because I really enjoyed reading it. A biographical history of the amazing author of La Mariposa…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.