Book Review: Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Review by Katie Montes

Depicted in this biography, Harvesting Hope, (also available as Cosechando Esperanza in Spanish) are paralleling journeys of Cesar Chavez, one of the key social justice leaders of the 20th century. Kathleen Krull not only chronicles Chavez’s journey across land, but also his journey of self-transformation as Chavez moves from the shy boy he once was to a leader, fighting for the basic rights of migrant workers. 

This book sheds light on some of the hardships that Cesar (and others) endured. For example, it  details ways in which, “landowners treated their workers more like farm tools than human beings.” Further stating that, “Anyone who complained was fired, beaten up, or sometimes even murdered.” Such episodes drive home the realities of life for seasonal and migrant workers and the scale of the systemic oppression Cesar challenged. Contrary to some works of children’s literature, Harvesting Hope does not fall into the trap of glossing over the struggles the protagonist faced. By depicting these difficulties, Krull conveys a sense of humanity as people come together to overcome the obstacles in their way.

Harvesting Hope illustrates, both literally and figuratively, the difficult decision that immigrants make when they leave their homes. This narrative humanizes immigrants through the range of emotions they feel and shows how these emotions connect people to one another. These human connections among field workers are shown to be the driving force behind the necessary change the workers were fighting for. The book is the perfect example to convey to students how el pueblo unido, or the people united, can work together to be the change they so desperately long for.

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez (2003). Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales (illus.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: New York.

Katie Montes is a 5th grade teacher and is currently pursuing her M. Ed in Dual Language Education.

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