A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez

* This post is part of Nonfiction Monday
hosted today by Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian *

Holiday House (pub. 7.31.2010)
32 pages  Grades 2-4

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top 

              and Illustrator:  MARIE OLOFSDOTTER

C haracter: Cesar Chavez, leader of American farmworkers

O verview from the jacket flap:  "For Cesar Chavez, dignity always meant more than money. As a child growing up in California during the Great Depression, Cesar picked produce with his family to make ends meet. The work was backbreaking, the pay was very low, and many families, including his, were homeless. 
     Cesar Chavez later dedicated his life to helping American farmworkers. He argued for better pay and fair working conditions, and was even jailed for his efforts. But he never stopped urging people to stand up for their rights. Young readers will be inspired by the fascinating life story of this champion of social justice."

T antalizing taste:  "Cesar's father was often too busy to spend time with his family. It was Cesar's mom who kept them together. She told her children stories. She taught them values and many proverbs, such as 'What you do to others, others do to you.'"

and something more: In honor of Presidents' Day today, I want to highlight Cesar Chavez' 1964 award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, accepted by his wife. The Picture Book of Cesar Chavez includes President Clinton's tribute to him upon the presentation of the award: "'This remarkable man... with faith and discipline, with soft-spoken humility and amazing inner strength led a very courageous life. And in so doing, he brought dignity to the lives of so many others and provided for us inspiration for the rest of our nation's history.'"  
     The Presidential Medal of Freedom was originally established in 1945 by President Truman to honor civilian service during World War II.  In 1963, President Kennedy expanded the scope of the award to encompass "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." (Executive Order 11085)
      I like that this award includes "cultural endeavors".  As the artist and architect, Maya Lin (a Presidential Design Award recipient), has expressed, "[A]rt, at times, can look at a subject differently, and in doing so can get people to pay closer attention."
     In 1964, the year Cesar Chavez was honored, the recipients in the creative world included the soprano Leontyne Price, the artist Willem de Kooning, the composer Aaron Copland, and the authors T.S. Eliot, Carl Sandburg and John Steinbeck.
     Last week, President Obama honored the fifteen recipients of the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom. The group included three of my favorites in the creative world: the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the artist Jasper Johns, and the author and poet Maya Angelou.
     As a thought for today, Presidents' Day, here are the powerful concluding words of Maya Angelou's poem, "On the Pulse of Morning", which she recited at President Clinton's 1993 inauguration:
"Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, and into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply 
With hope
Good morning."


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gleek said...

Am I a follower now or is there a button I push?

gleek said...

I love that you incorporate upcoming holidays into your selection of books!

Anonymous said...

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