La Mariposa

ISBN: 0618073175
ISBN 13: 9780618073177
By: Francisco Jiménez Francisco Jiménez Simon Silva

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Children Children's Books Historical Fiction Level P Lightning Lit Comp 2 Multicultural Picture Nopq Picture Books Realistic Fiction To Read

About this book

In his first year of school, Francisco understands little of what his teacher says. But he is drawn to the silent, slow-moving caterpillar in the jar next to his desk. He knows caterpillars turn into butterflies, but just how do they do it? To find out, he studies the words in a butterfly book so many times that he can close his eyes and see the black letters, but he still can't understand their meaning. Illustrated with paintings as deep and rich as the wings of a butterfly, this honest, unsentimental account of a schoolchild's struggle to learn language reveals that our imaginations powerfully sustain us. La Mariposa makes a subtle plea for tolerance in our homes, our communities, and in our schools.

Reader's Thoughts

Book-it Repertory Theatre

Book-It All Over tours this charming story in a bilingual presentation all over Washington State. Its first public performance will be September 6.

Jessica Gin

This is a story about a young boy named Francisco who becomes disengaged with school, due to a language barrier. He speaks Spanish and cannot understand what is going on in class, and quickly becomes discouraged and loses interest. A catepillar captures his attention, which inspires him to read a book about how catepillar’s become butterflies. This is a story about overcoming obstacles and assimilation.

Chelsea Bucci

It is Francisco's first year at school in an English speaking classroom. He only knows a little bit of English which limits his understanding of what his teacher says to the class. During the school day, he is intrigued by a catepillar that sits in a jar next to his desk. He decides to devote all of his energy into learning how a catepillar turns into a butterfly. This story addresses the struggles ELL learners face while they are learning a new language. It also shows how imaginative children can be and how we can incorporate what they are interested in, into the curriculum.

Gladys Sosa

I love this book because when I read this book to them, they were able to make connection immediately. This book talks about Francisco in his first year of school and how he struggles with the language. The majority of my students are Spanish-speakers and when we are reading the book togethers they always make connections with their own experiences. Students are very engage all the time.

Sarah Evans

A poignant story with gorgeous illustrations.

Daniel L.

Having read "The Circuit" by the same author, I was eager to read "La Mariposa" to my younger students. Francisco Jimenez creates beautifully written semi-autobiographical stories about life as a child of a family of migrant farmers from Mexico. The the eyes of the main character, Francisco, we experience a child's first day in a new school, where he is the object of stares and, at the hands of a bully, ridicule. However, Francisco is a dreamer, and he conveys his dreams through beautiful pictures of... butterflies. The goodness of his teacher and classmates shine through in the end of this beautiful and sensitive story as they admire his artwork and share in his dream.


** spoiler alert ** I really didn't like the message sent by this book. I read many books on immigration to my students. One of the themes I want them to understand is that life in America can be hard. And life is hard for Francisco, the main character of this story. He has few friends, is part of a school that favors English immersion and is bullied by the most popular boy in school. In the end, he wins a prize for his picture, which the bully admires. Francisco then gives the picture to the bully and you get the impression that now they are friends. I don't like that the ending is framed so as to seem positive. I can't imagine that the kind of boy who'd beat up someone who is different would really complement Francisco on his artwork and want to be friends. I do find Francisco's relinquishment of his prize work to be realistic, but not as an "olive branch" scenario.


Wonderful, motivating story about a Mexican boy struggling to acquire English that is drawn in by the beauty of butterflies.


This is taken from his larger book "the circuit". To be honest, I did not get the message of 'the transformation in the life of a young bicultural, bilingual child...'. To me, this was a story of a young child struggling in a school that could/would not provide bilingual teaching or ESL. This poor child wasted a whole year in first grade - I realize that at the time, the point was to immerse the child in English so that they would learn English faster, however, the social isolation and the student's ability to transcend is what captured me.


About being the odd one out and trying to adapt or just make it though. Good for me to read as someone who often teaches bilingual or English language learners and who also loves butterflies.

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