Gathering The Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English

Gathering The Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English


Best-selling Book!
Once Upon A World Book Award, Simon Weisen­thal Cen­ter, 1998
NCSS/CBC Notable Book in the area of Social Stud­ies, National Coun­cil of Social Stud­ies and the Children’s Book Coun­cil
Pura Bel­pré Honor Book, Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion 1997
NCTE Notable Book in Lan­guage Arts, National Coun­cil of Teach­ers of Eng­lish
“Pick of the Lists” Amer­i­can Book­sellers Asso­ci­a­tion
Cal­i­for­nia Read­ers’ Col­lec­tion, Ele­men­tary List
Com­mended List, Cen­ter for Latin Amer­i­can Studies


The author’s many years of work with migrant fam­i­lies inspired this poetic ABC of the fields, in two lan­guages, and Simón Silva’s mag­nif­i­cent illus­tra­tions, in bold col­ors, have cre­ated a work of art to be enjoyed by chil­dren and adults alike. (K-12).


Suni Paz has drawn from her exten­sive knowl­edge of Latin Amer­i­can folk­lore for the inspi­ra­tional music that turns the poems in this book into mem­o­rable songs, an irre­sistible invi­ta­tion to lis­ten, to enjoy, to sing along.


Some of the most heart­en­ing expe­ri­ences of my life have been my work with Migrant Farm Work­ing fam­i­lies. I have described the aca­d­e­mic results of shar­ing high qual­ity children’s books with Migrant par­ents and invit­ing them to cre­ate books with their chil­dren in Pájaro Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia in the book A Mag­i­cal Encounter: Use of Latino Lit­er­a­ture in the Class­room. I have described my work with farm work­ing par­ents, and the learn­ing I derived from it, in my mem­oirs, Vivir en dos idiomas.

The poems of Gath­er­ing the Sun were born out of these enrich­ing expe­ri­ences. Simón Silva, who knew inti­mately the life in the fields dur­ing his child­hood and has drawn from the her­itage of the great Mex­i­can mural­ists pro­vided strong and mag­nif­i­cent illus­tra­tions that have made this book the true homage to the farm work­ers lives and strug­gles that I dreamt to create.

It has given me unsur­pass­able joy to sign this book for golden anniver­saries of grand­par­ents and for birth­day gifts, for quinceañeras, new­born babies and babies yet to be born, real­iz­ing that in each case the book is a sym­bol of the strength, the resilience, the deter­mi­na­tion, the dig­nity and the pro­found love of fam­ily of those who work in the fields and whose labor allows us all to live.

Suni’s unique voice and her mas­ter­ful com­po­si­tions have allowed the words in this book to tran­scend their birth as poems becom­ing unfor­get­table songs. My grat­i­tude to Suni and Simón, for allow­ing this homage to César Chávez and all campesinos to be as inspir­ing as his exam­ple and their lives.


School Library Journal

Pre-School-Grade 5. An alpha­bet book with excep­tional illus­tra­tions and excel­lent poetry that gives voice to the expe­ri­ence of His­panic agri­cul­tural work­ers. Each let­ter is matched with a Span­ish word (for exam­ple, “Arboles” for “A”) and accom­pa­nied by a poem in both Span­ish and Eng­lish that describes how the plant, fruit, veg­etable, per­son, or feel­ing func­tions in the lives of these work­ers. Zubizarreta’s Eng­lish trans­la­tions are informed and grace­ful, but pre­dictably can­not match the Span­ish orig­i­nals in rhythm, asso­nance, or meter. Silva’s vibrant, double-page, gouache illus­tra­tions are rem­i­nis­cent of the art­work of Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. The col­ors are bril­liant, and the scope has a cer­tain larger-than-life sense to it. This is a book that begs to be read aloud to all stu­dents, whether they are Span­ish speak­ing or not. The sound of the poems will draw them in. The touch­ing elegy for Cesar Chavez suc­cess­fully imparts the impact of a heroic man on his peo­ple. Whether used to show the plight of migrant work­ers or the pride His­panic labor­ers feel in their her­itage, this is an impor­tant book. –Ann Wel­ton, Ter­mi­nal Park Ele­men­tary School, Auburn, WA Copy­right 1997 Reed Busi­ness Infor­ma­tion, Inc.


Ages 5–8. Using the Span­ish alpha­bet as a tem­plate, Ada has writ­ten 27 poems that cel­e­brate both the bounty of the har­vest and the Mex­i­can her­itage of the farm­work­ers and their fam­i­lies. The poems, pre­sented in both Span­ish and Eng­lish, are short and sim­ple bursts of fla­vor: “Árboles/Trees,” “Betabel/Beet,” “César Chávez,” etc. Silva’s sun-drenched gouache paint­ings are robust, with images sculpted in paint. Brim­ming with respect and pride, the book, with its mythic vision of the migrant farm worker, will add much to any unit on farm­ing or Mex­i­can Amer­i­can her­itage. Annie Ayres

Curled Up with a Good Kid’s Book

Tap­ping into a rich cul­tural his­tory of peo­ple work­ing the land and har­vest­ing its bounty, Gath­er­ing the Sun is bril­liantly illus­trated, a delight­ful adven­ture into the world of lan­guage and art, of “sim­ple words and sun-drenched paint­ings.” More than just an alpha­bet book, it teaches chil­dren the basics of lan­guage in the con­text of fam­ily and tradition.

The illus­trated alpha­bet is Span­ish, text in both Span­ish and Eng­lish: “arboles (trees), “the com­pan­ions of my child­hood”; duraznos (peaches), “like a gen­tle caress in the palm of my hand”; tomates (toma­toes), “red tomato in the kitchen, in the lit­tle tacos my god­mother loves to make”; zana­ho­ria (car­rot), “The car­rot hides beneath the earth. After all, she knows the sun’s fiery color by heart.”

Through the text by Alma Flor Ada and won­der­ful art of Simon Silva, begin­ning read­ers explore orchards and fields beside those who plant and nur­ture the crops, the book ded­i­cated to the liv­ing mem­ory of César Chávez: “Your exam­ple and your words sprout anew in the field rows as seedlings of quiet hope.”

In a joy­ful cel­e­bra­tion of till­ing, toil­ing and the lan­guage of nature’s bounty, the text is bilin­gual, with par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the har­mony of words and the images wrought from the earth’s palette, the cycle of growth and those who labor to carry their fruits from field to kitchen, from the hands that tend the plants to those who pre­pare the spicy and tex­tured foods that grace the tables of grate­ful fam­i­lies: “In the field row lies a seed, all tucked in like a baby in the crib.”

Gath­er­ing the Sun is noth­ing less than stun­ning, sat­u­rated with color and the shared dig­nity of hard work, a reflec­tion of the author and illustrator’s appre­ci­a­tion for all aspects of growth, from field to heart to spirit, acknowl­edg­ing “honor and pride, fam­ily and friends, his­tory and her­itage, and… the bounty of the har­vest.“
–Luan Gaines/2006 for Curled Up with a Good Kid’s Book

Whole World of ABCs and 123s
In her selec­tion of bilin­gual books for read­ing to chil­dren, librar­ian Ana-Elba Pavon said of this beau­ti­ful, verse abecedario: it is “a trib­ute to work­ing in the fields. A col­lec­tion of poems, it includes Cesar Chavez, indi­vid­ual fruits and veg­eta­bles, and other Latino sym­bols. Use the poem under the let­ter “O” for “Orgullo” or “Pride” as a chant with your audi­ence. Have them repeat each verse of the poem after you read it.” Absolutely!

Gath­er­ing the Sun: An Alpha­bet in Span­ish and Eng­lish by the pro­lific author Alma Flor Ada is by def­i­n­i­tion an alpha­bet book, but is a trib­ute to work­ing in the fields. A col­lec­tion of poems, it includes Cesar Chavez, indi­vid­ual fruits and veg­eta­bles, and other Latino sym­bols. Use the poem under the let­ter “O” for “Orgullo” or “Pride” as a chant with your audi­ence. Have them repeat each verse of the poem after you read it.– Mar­jorie Coughlan


The Children’s Lit­er­a­ture Lover’s Book of Lists by Joanna Sul­li­van on page 64, page 278, and page 333
Valerie & Walter’s Best Books for Chil­dren 2nd Ed : A Lively, Opin­ion­ated Guide by Wal­ter M. Mayes on page 41, and Index
In Sweet Com­pany: Con­ver­sa­tions with Extra­or­di­nary Women about Liv­ing a Spir­i­tual Life by Mar­garet Wolff on page 69
The Read­ing Teacher’s Book of Lists (J-B Ed: Book of Lists) by Edward Bernard Fry on page 159
“Let’s Read : A Com­plete Month-by-Month Activ­i­ties Pro­gram for Begin­ning Read­ers” by Eliz­a­beth Crosby Stull in Back Mat­ter

Image Gallery


If you have enjoyed read­ing or shar­ing this book, I would very much like to hear from you. Please click here to send your comments.