Book Summary: Tomas is an immigrant child who works on farms with his family both in Texas and Iowa. One summer in Iowa, he befriends a local librarian who introduces him to the world of reading, changing his life forever.
APA Reference: Mora, P. (1997). Tomas and the library lady. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Impressions: What Tomas and the Library Lady has going for it best is its intermittent use of Spanish and English in order to teach Spanish language words. The story itself is alright if not underdeveloped. There is not much going on except for a boy reading a book about dinosaurs at a library and then to his migrant family. Based on a true story, there seems to be much more going on in the real version than in the children's book, as the fact Tomas excelled in life and education is far more interesting than the story given here.
Professional Review: 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. Tom†s Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tom†s likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tom†s finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tom†s reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tom†s's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Col¢n'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. (1997). Tomas and the Library Lady (Book). [Review of the book Tomas and the Library Lady, by Pat Mora]. Kirkus Reviews, Retrieved from http://libproxy.library.unt.edu:2087/docview/917368899/fulltext?accountid=7113
Library Uses: This book could be used to help bilingual or higher-level ESL students transition into reading English more.