Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

by Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales

Cesar Chavez was an American hero, a labor activist who worked tirelessly to improve... read more

Cesar Chavez was an American hero, a labor activist who worked tirelessly to improve working conditions for the migrant farm workers of California. In Krull’s picture book biography, we first meet Chavez as a small boy, enjoying his life on his family’s ranch in Arizona. It was not until he was ten years old that a drought destroyed the ranch and forced his family to move to California, where his life changed dramatically. He grew up alongside thousands of other Mexican and Mexican American laborers and experienced firsthand the discrimination and poor working conditions faced by migrant workers. In school he was forced to speak only English and eventually left before finishing his education. As he grew older, he became more hopeful that he could fight for reform, and eventually organized The National Farm Workers Association. Through strikes, marches, and non-violent demonstrations, Chavez and NFWA were instrumental in improving both pay and working conditions for California’s grape workers. In 1965, Chavez negotiated the first “contract for farm workers in American History.” Morales’s lush artwork, done mostly with richly colored oil paintings, contributes to the depth of this story. Her stylized illustrations show Chavez at several stages in his life, his image getting literally larger and more powerful on each page. The final page acknowledges that Chavez’s work was just the beginning of many years of struggle for justice. Morales’s accompany painting, showing Chavez looking up at a beautiful starry sky, will leave readers feeling hopeful. (Ages 5–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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