Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Esperanza Rising: Introduction

Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, is a Young Adult book about a young girl from Mexico. Her father was a wealthy land-owner, so Esperanza had a comfortable and privileged life.

When Esperanza's father is killed in a bandit raid, and her uncle tries to force her mother to marry him, so he could inherit the land, the money and the prestige, Esperanza and her mother flee to the United States where they get jobs packing fruits and vegetables on a huge farm in the Imperial Valley.

The book is set during the 1930s, at the height of the depression and the dust bowl.

This is a fun and fast book.

We're celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, starting on the fifteenth of September. And, with the economy the way it is now, the workers' fear and desperation in the book will really ring true to what's going on today.

The coordinating activity throughout the book is the beautiful zigzag blanket Esperanza's Abuelita (grandmother) is crocheting.
"Come, mi nieta, my granddaughter," said Abuelita, holding up yarn and crochet hooks. "I am starting a new blanket and will teach you the zigzag."...

Esperanza complained, "Must we always crochet to take our minds off worry?"...

"Esperanza... Now watch. Ten stitches up to the top of the mountain. Add one stitch. Nine stitches down to the bottom of the valley. Skip one."

Esperanza picked up her own crochet needle and copied Abuelita's movements and then looked at her own crocheting. The tops of her mountains were lopsided, and the bottoms of her valleys were all bunched up.

Abuelita smiled, reached over, and pulled the yarn, unraveling all of Esperanza's rows. "Do not be afraid to start over."

Esperanza sighed and began again with ten stitches.
I followed Esperanza's blanket, as she works on it through the book, and decided it might be fun to crochet along with Esperanza. I'm not much of a crocheter, but with instructions this simple, how difficult could it be?

As I found out, Abuelita's advice "Do not be afraid to start over" were prophetic. Starting on Friday, I'll have pictures of my progression. I'm not crocheting an entire blanket. I'm just going to do a washcloth. But it'll be fun! Really!

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