Title: A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez
Author: David A. Adler and Michael S. Adler
Illustrator: Marie Olofsdotter
Publisher: Holiday House
Concepts: labor conditions, worker rights, wages, employment, social justice, labor organizing
Review: Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America and a highly influential civil rights leader, learned from his parents to value dignity even in the face of poverty. The Great Depression had caused his family to lose their Arizona farm and to move to California in search of work. Already at a young age Cesar helped his family to earn a living by picking fruits and vegetables. Constantly on the move (sometimes in response to especially poor working conditions that the family refused to tolerate), Cesar attended sixty-five elementary schools and was forced to drop out of school at the age of fifteen to work full-time.
As a young adult, Cesar channeled these hardships into action, beginning with a voter registration drive and subsequently with the formation of a fruit pickers union. Over time he used a variety of forceful but nonviolent methods to advocate for farm workers’ rights, including marches, church meetings, sit-ins, boycotts, and hunger strikes. His organizing tactics resulted not only in higher wages, benefits, and improved working conditions for farm workers, but also in the promotion of Latino civil rights.
Experienced biographer David Adler and his son do an excellent job in helping children become more familiar with an important advocate for social justice and worker rights. The detailed narrative is nicely balanced with a compelling story and bold illustrations to keep younger readers thoroughly engaged.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children