“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.” —Kirkus Reviews
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.
Reviews & Accolades
“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… Colón’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.” —Kirkus Reviews
“From the immigrant slums of New York 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 Tomás Rivera, the son of migrant workers who became an education leader and university president.” —Hazel Rochman, Booklist
“A gentle text and innovative artwork depict a pivotal summer in a boy’ … Spanish words slip in naturally and unobtrusively throughout Mora’s text as she focuses on the snug library and the books that fire Tomás’ imagination, and on his friendship with the librarian. … While young readers and future librarians will find this an inspiring tale, the endnote gives it a real kick; the story is based on an actual migrant worker who became chancellor of a university—where the library now bears his name.” —Publishers Weekly
Education, migrant workers, inspirational mentors, storytelling
VIEW curriculum ideas from Pat Mora’s website
VIEW a tool kit PDF created by the Family Involvement Storybook Corner at Harvard University
VIEW the Enrichment Guide PDF for the play of Tomás and the Library Lady
VIEW the Preview Guide for Parents and Teachers PDF to Childsplay’s Production of Tomás and the Library Lady
VISIT the Tomás and the Library Lady page on Inclusive Classrooms Project for videos, discussion questions and more
VISIT the Tomás and the Library Lady page on Pat Mora’s page for a printable poem and for Q & A by the author about Tomás
Leave a comment and let us know how you use this title!