Medina, Jane. 2004. THE DREAM ON BLANCA’S WALL. Ill. by Robert Casilla. Honesdale, PA: Boyd’s Mills Press. ISBN 1563977400. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
When Blanca’s second-grade teacher asks her to “draw her dream,” Blanca sketches a crude drawing of herself as a teacher surrounded by children. She keeps this dream on her bedroom wall for encouragement. But, as an immigrant from Mexico, she often feels her dreams are unattainable. She strives to break through cultural and language barriers, but she so often feels inept. When her sixth grade teacher recognizes her talent for instructing younger children, he rekindles and encourages her forgotten dream.
Through a series of poems written throughout her elementary school years, Blanca gives the reader a glimpse of her struggles in an American school. The collection of poems provides insightful observations of family and neighbors through the eyes of a girl who strives for a respectable place in the world. The pencil drawings that accompany each poem are vivid and detailed, and enhance the story’s characterization. At first glance, readers may assume that the bilingual format of the book will appeal only to Spanish-speakers, however, the well-developed story told through the poetry is a hidden prize for all.
Teachers of immigrant students will find this story to be an interesting springboard to discussing or writing about the American dream. With so many of our children coming to our schools from other countries, this story should find empathy among its readers.
Younger readers can draw the dream they want to hang on their walls.
Readers can write a paragraph about an admired teacher, family member, or neighbor. Using line breaks, they then transpose the paragraph into a poem and illustrate.
Other bilingual poetry books:
Argueta, Jorge. A MOVIE IN MY PILLOW, ISBN 0892391650
Carlson, Lori. COOL SALSA. ISBN 044970436X
Nye, Naomi Shihab. THE TREE IS OLDER THAN YOU ARE. ISBN 0689820879
By Rebecca S. McKee