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Todos Iguales / All Equal: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove / A Ballad of Lemon Grove

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Ten-year-old Roberto Alvarez loved school. He, his siblings, and neighbors attended the Lemon Grove School along with the white children from nearby homes. The children studied and played together as equals. In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a "language handicap" and nee Ten-year-old Roberto Alvarez loved school. He, his siblings, and neighbors attended the Lemon Grove School along with the white children from nearby homes. The children studied and played together as equals. In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a "language handicap" and needed to be "Americanized." When the Mexican families learned of this plan, they refused to let their children enter the new, inferior school that had been erected. They formed a neighborhood committee and sought legal help. Roberto, a bright boy who spoke English well, became the plaintiff in a suit filed by the Mexican families. On March 12, 1931, the case of Roberto Alvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District was decided. The judge ruled in favor of the children's right to equal education, ordering that Roberto and all the other Mexican American students be immediately reinstated in the Lemon Grove School. This nonfiction bilingual picture book, written in both English and Spanish, tells the empowering story of The Lemon Grove Incident--a major victory in the battle against school segregation, and a testament to the tenacity of an immigrant community and its fight for equal rights.


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Ten-year-old Roberto Alvarez loved school. He, his siblings, and neighbors attended the Lemon Grove School along with the white children from nearby homes. The children studied and played together as equals. In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a "language handicap" and nee Ten-year-old Roberto Alvarez loved school. He, his siblings, and neighbors attended the Lemon Grove School along with the white children from nearby homes. The children studied and played together as equals. In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a "language handicap" and needed to be "Americanized." When the Mexican families learned of this plan, they refused to let their children enter the new, inferior school that had been erected. They formed a neighborhood committee and sought legal help. Roberto, a bright boy who spoke English well, became the plaintiff in a suit filed by the Mexican families. On March 12, 1931, the case of Roberto Alvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District was decided. The judge ruled in favor of the children's right to equal education, ordering that Roberto and all the other Mexican American students be immediately reinstated in the Lemon Grove School. This nonfiction bilingual picture book, written in both English and Spanish, tells the empowering story of The Lemon Grove Incident--a major victory in the battle against school segregation, and a testament to the tenacity of an immigrant community and its fight for equal rights.

30 review for Todos Iguales / All Equal: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove / A Ballad of Lemon Grove

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Teut

    I had no idea segregation occurred with Mexican American children. This was NEVER taught to me in any history class. I wish it was, because I feel foolish learning about it just now as an adult. This was a beautiful, moving book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sunday

    Hales tells the story of the first successful school desegregation case in the U.S., Roberto Alvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District. What stood out to me were the details about how the Mexican-American and Anglo children went to school together at the start and interacted with each other outside of school--swimming at the pond, playing baseball. The Mexican-American families watched the segregated school being built only suspecting its purpose. Then one day in Januar Hales tells the story of the first successful school desegregation case in the U.S., Roberto Alvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District. What stood out to me were the details about how the Mexican-American and Anglo children went to school together at the start and interacted with each other outside of school--swimming at the pond, playing baseball. The Mexican-American families watched the segregated school being built only suspecting its purpose. Then one day in January 1931 the principal met the Mexican-American students on the front step of the old school and told them to head to the new school. Unbelievable!!! The way Hale has written this, readers will feel outrage. Hale doesn't do the work for the reader by saying "they were outraged" or "they were upset"; instead she relies on the reader to draw their own conclusions. (THANK YOU!!!) Written in Spanish and English. Appreciated that the Spanish text was placed first on each page. The BACK MATTER gives more details about before, during, and after the case which may help to know if you are reading this aloud to children and want to fill them in a little further. Also includes photographs of key players which make this all the more real for students. Worthy of reading aloud to older students or asking them to check out if they want more info. “Un Corrido de” (A ballad of) is part of the title. At the beginning of the book, there’s a page of sheet music (for piano and guitar) and a ballad (in Spanish and English) with permission granted to photo copy. Think this would make for great opportunity to sing along but also to reinforce the details. Could also serve as a MENTOR TEXT if students pursue writing un corrido about another part of history they have researched. Corridos are explained in more detail in the backmatter. The corrido isn't a central part of the story or the layout/design of the narrative; nevertheless, it could be a valuable tool for teaching and learning. Recommend this as an INTERACTIVE READ ALOUD in 2nd grade and up. Lots of room for conversations in response to, “How do you think the students are feeling? What makes you think so?” and “What conclusions can you draw?” The illustrations also reveal quite a bit and are worthy of looking at closely and talking about in small groups. Definitely make this part of a TEXT SET on the topic of school segregation with titles like Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation (Tonatiuh, 2014) and, for older students, Through My Eyes (Ruby Bridges, 1999).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Anglo and Mexican children always attended the Lemon Grove School together. But, during the summer of 1930, parents in the community near San Diego learned of the school district's plan to segregate the Mexican American children and send them to a different, inferior school. The organized, hired lawyers and filed a lawsuit against the school board. One student, Roberto Alvarez, represented all the students - he spoke excellent English and did well in school, convincing the judge that the school Anglo and Mexican children always attended the Lemon Grove School together. But, during the summer of 1930, parents in the community near San Diego learned of the school district's plan to segregate the Mexican American children and send them to a different, inferior school. The organized, hired lawyers and filed a lawsuit against the school board. One student, Roberto Alvarez, represented all the students - he spoke excellent English and did well in school, convincing the judge that the school boards efforts to isolate the Mexican American students in order to teach them better language skills were unfounded. The judge ruled in favor of the parents and children were once again allowed to learn together. Christy Hale's non-fiction account of the Lemon Grove school is told in both Spanish and English. I loved that Spanish is first - the primary language of the book and that English is the translation. The illustrations are large and expressive and mirror the time period nicely. An important book for the Civil Rights section of your library. for this and more of my reviews, visit http://kissthebookjr.blogspot.com

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Who knew that the first successful desegregation case occurred in 1931 between the Lemon Grove School District and the Mexican American community? Not far from my hometown (San Diego), I love discovering history about a place I love so much. Bilingual picture book told in both Spanish and English.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    yes i like how you’re trying to make the world a better place thank you 🙏🏻

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Bange

    Christy Hale shines a light on this little-known landmark school desegregation case - the first one successful in the U.S. Before there was the Little Rock Nine and Cooper v. Aaron (1958); (Linda) Brown v. Board of Education (1954); (Sylvia) Mendez v. Westminster (1946)... There was the "Lemon Grove Incident". Roberto Álvarez was a twelve-year-old Mexican American boy who loved school. He and all the other children in Lemon Grove, CA -- Mexican and Anglo -- attended the same school until the sum Christy Hale shines a light on this little-known landmark school desegregation case - the first one successful in the U.S. Before there was the Little Rock Nine and Cooper v. Aaron (1958); (Linda) Brown v. Board of Education (1954); (Sylvia) Mendez v. Westminster (1946)... There was the "Lemon Grove Incident". Roberto Álvarez was a twelve-year-old Mexican American boy who loved school. He and all the other children in Lemon Grove, CA -- Mexican and Anglo -- attended the same school until the summer of 1930. It was at that time when Mexican families in this agrarian community learned that a separate school was being built for their children -- for Mexican students. The parents organized and brought together a lawsuit against the school board, naming Roberto as the plaintiff. In 1931, the judge ruled against the school board, supporting all of the childrens' right to equal education in Lemon Grove. Hale, whose books include Water Land (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, c2018), Dreaming Up (Lee & Low, c2012), and The East-West House (Lee & Low, c2009), tackles this tough topic in a holistic way. Not only did she write the bilingual narrative (both in Spanish and English), but she also wrote all 9 verses of lyrics for a corrido (a ballad, with tune by Hernán Epelman and notated by Michael Greiner), drew the exquisite mixed media illustrations, and wrote the extensive backmatter for the book (a history of Mexican Americans in the Lemon Grove area, a list of who's who in the court case, the results of this ruling, and a page of source notes). Hale notes in the book that the illustrations were inspired by vintage California citrus labels. Most are bold, bright, and colorful as if happening today, while a few are more muted, pastel, and dreamy as if remembering the past. She skillfully makes each face in the book unique, as each is an individual. Pair this with books on other landmark desegregation cases the next time you discuss desegregation and civil rights for children in the classroom. Highly Recommended for grades 3-8.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*

    Todos Iguales : All Equal by Christy Hale PICTURE BOOK, NON-FICTION Lee and Low, 2019, $20. 9780892394272 BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL - ADVISABLE AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE Anglo and Mexican children always attended the Lemon Grove School together. But, during the summer of 1930, parents in the community near San Diego learned of the school district's plan to segregate the Mexican American children and send them to a different, inferior school. They organized, hired lawyers and filed a lawsuit aga Todos Iguales : All Equal by Christy Hale PICTURE BOOK, NON-FICTION Lee and Low, 2019, $20. 9780892394272 BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL - ADVISABLE AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE Anglo and Mexican children always attended the Lemon Grove School together. But, during the summer of 1930, parents in the community near San Diego learned of the school district's plan to segregate the Mexican American children and send them to a different, inferior school. They organized, hired lawyers and filed a lawsuit against the school board. One student, Roberto Alvarez, represented all the students - he spoke excellent English and did well in school, convincing the judge that the school board's efforts to isolate the Mexican American students in order to teach them better language skills were unfounded. The judge ruled in favor of the parents and children were once again allowed to learn together. Christy Hale's non-fiction account of the Lemon Grove school is told in both Spanish and English. I loved that Spanish is first - the primary language of the book and that English is the translation. The illustrations are large and expressive and mirror the time period nicely. An important book for the Civil Rights section of your library. Lisa Librarian https://kissthebookjr.blogspot.com/20...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Although I might have liked more details about the case and the surroundings, I was thrilled to read this account of the first successful school desegregation case back in 1931. I had never heard of Lemon Grove or this groundbreaking case so this piece of history was quite interesting to me. Colorful gouache and relief-print illustrations complement this bilingual text (Spanish on the top and English on the bottom) describing what happened in Lemon Grove, California. Roberto Akvarez, 12, and sev Although I might have liked more details about the case and the surroundings, I was thrilled to read this account of the first successful school desegregation case back in 1931. I had never heard of Lemon Grove or this groundbreaking case so this piece of history was quite interesting to me. Colorful gouache and relief-print illustrations complement this bilingual text (Spanish on the top and English on the bottom) describing what happened in Lemon Grove, California. Roberto Akvarez, 12, and several of his neighbors, attended the community school. But the local school board decided to build a separate structure for the Mexican-American children. Their parents considered the new school to be inferior and a blatant attempt to keep their children separated from the whites. When they filed a lawsuit, the school board tried to defend its actions by claiming that the new school was intended to assist those who struggled with the English language or were deficient in other ways. With Roberto testifying, the judge ruled that as the students were considered to be white, they could not be separated from other white students and that they should be allowed to attend the schools they originally attended. Thus, all 75 youngsters who had been denied access to their original school were allowed to attend it, after all. The decision of Judge Claude Chambers did not set a precedent for other cases since the case was never appealed to a higher court, but the case still had relevance when Thurgood Marshall later wrote arguments for Brown vs. Board of Education. I was a bit confused about the role of Principal Jerome Greene, who didn't let the youngsters enter the school once a new building had been erected but who also seemed sympathetic to their cause. Back matter includes information about the relevant individuals and corridas as well as references. Readers will also want to take a second look at the illustrations, based on vintage California citrus labels found on shipping crates during those times. This was a fascinating slice of civil rights history, and readers will be impressed at the courage young Robert must have had to testify in that court. Were it not for those parents who decided to file the suit, things might have turned out very different as community members simply accepted the status quo or the machinations of that school board.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maritza Mejia

    Todos iguales - All Equal La historia e ilustraciones bilingües (inglés y español) de Christy Hale revelan un momento real y difícil en la historia de la educación cuando la Junta Escolar de Lemon Grove decidió segregar a los estudiantes mexicano-estadounidenses. El libro aborda el caso de Lemon Grove del verano de 1930 y una victoria importante en la batalla contra la segregación escolar. Este incidente comenzó cuando la junta afirmaba que los niños tenían un "discapacidad de idioma" y necesitab Todos iguales - All Equal La historia e ilustraciones bilingües (inglés y español) de Christy Hale revelan un momento real y difícil en la historia de la educación cuando la Junta Escolar de Lemon Grove decidió segregar a los estudiantes mexicano-estadounidenses. El libro aborda el caso de Lemon Grove del verano de 1930 y una victoria importante en la batalla contra la segregación escolar. Este incidente comenzó cuando la junta afirmaba que los niños tenían un "discapacidad de idioma" y necesitaban ser "americanizados". La Junta Escolar construyó una escuela cerca de la comunidad mexicana de baja calidad y con libros viejos. Cuando las familias mexicanas se enteraron de este plan, se negaron a dejar que sus hijos entraran en la nueva escuela inferior que había sido construida. Los vecinos formaron un comité y encontraron ayuda legal. Un niño brillante de diez años, Roberto Álvarez, que hablaba inglés con fluidez, se convirtió en el demandante en una demanda presentada por las familias mexicanas. El 12 de marzo de 1931, se decidió el caso de Roberto Álvarez contra la Junta de Sindicatos del Distrito Escolar de Lemon Grove. El juez falló a favor del derecho de los niños a la igualdad de educación, ordenando que Roberto y todos los demás estudiantes mexicano-estadounidenses fueran reinstalados inmediatamente en la Escuela Lemon Grove. Esta historia es un testimonio de valentía y tenacidad de una comunidad inmigrante que luchó por la igualdad de derechos. Contiene hechos e información importante sobre el caso. Recomiendo encarecidamente este libro para las bibliotecas escolares o aulas de clase de sociales.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bethany M. Edwards

    If you have read the desegregation stories about Ruby Bridges or Sylvia Mendez, I highly recommend adding ALL EQUAL/TODOS IGUALES to your TBR list. This bilingual Spanish/English picture tells the story of the 1931 Lemon Grove incident in which Mexican families in southern California won the first desegregation case in United States history. Unnervingly similar to the xenophobic interviews in 2019, 12 year old Roberto Alvarez was told by the board that Mexican children “had a language handicap” If you have read the desegregation stories about Ruby Bridges or Sylvia Mendez, I highly recommend adding ALL EQUAL/TODOS IGUALES to your TBR list. This bilingual Spanish/English picture tells the story of the 1931 Lemon Grove incident in which Mexican families in southern California won the first desegregation case in United States history. Unnervingly similar to the xenophobic interviews in 2019, 12 year old Roberto Alvarez was told by the board that Mexican children “had a language handicap” and needed to be “Americanized”. Refusing to be sent to a substandard school, the families fought back for their basic human right to equal education. This incredibly poignant book includes a lot of back matter that adds substance to understanding the complexity of this story. These added historical and cultural details make this book a wonderful book report choice or guided reading mentor text. A writing extension could include having children write their own ballad about justice and equality. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions, as always, are my own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    I had no idea there were any other school segregation cases outside of Brown VS. Board of Education, and I am grateful to have learned that I was wrong! This is an incredible story of a community sticking together and fighting for what's right. And it's bilingual, which is only appropriate considering the students who were being segregated were Mexican Americans. I first read it in English and then went back through and read it in Spanish. I had to cheat a few times because of unfamiliar legal v I had no idea there were any other school segregation cases outside of Brown VS. Board of Education, and I am grateful to have learned that I was wrong! This is an incredible story of a community sticking together and fighting for what's right. And it's bilingual, which is only appropriate considering the students who were being segregated were Mexican Americans. I first read it in English and then went back through and read it in Spanish. I had to cheat a few times because of unfamiliar legal vocabulary and the like, but other than that I was proud that my Spanish isn't too rusty. I love bilingual books and I think this is an excellent example of how you can truly make it a fluid experience even with double the amount of text on the page. My favorite part, however, was that the illustrations were based on the fruit packaging labels of the time. It's that kind of detail that sets this book apart, making it a must read for literally everyone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Really excellent picture book about the first successful school desegregation case in the United States. Being a San Diego native, you'd think I would've heard about this case before, but this book was my first experience of this bit of civil rights history that happened in San Diego county. I really love that this book is bilingual, with the Spanish text presented first. Too, the art is outstanding, evoking citrus fruit labels with bold colors and geometric patterns, as well as an early 20th ce Really excellent picture book about the first successful school desegregation case in the United States. Being a San Diego native, you'd think I would've heard about this case before, but this book was my first experience of this bit of civil rights history that happened in San Diego county. I really love that this book is bilingual, with the Spanish text presented first. Too, the art is outstanding, evoking citrus fruit labels with bold colors and geometric patterns, as well as an early 20th century painterly style. I highly recommend this book- it would make a great elementary classroom read when addressing civil rights topics.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    Read for the Mock Caldecott Awards. Very interesting picture book based on an historical event. The entire book is written in Spanish and then English. The color palette is lovely with bold colors presented in muted tones. A small town in Southern California sends all of their children, both Mexican American and Anglos to a lovely school. But in 1930, the school board decides to build a subpar school for the Mexican children. The book tells this story and how the parents of the segregated childr Read for the Mock Caldecott Awards. Very interesting picture book based on an historical event. The entire book is written in Spanish and then English. The color palette is lovely with bold colors presented in muted tones. A small town in Southern California sends all of their children, both Mexican American and Anglos to a lovely school. But in 1930, the school board decides to build a subpar school for the Mexican children. The book tells this story and how the parents of the segregated children won the right to send their children back to their original school.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kifflie

    Christy Hale tells the story of how the Lemon Grove school in California tried to segregate its Mexican-American students, and how the students and families fought back successfully through the legal process. The book is written in both Spanish and English (a good practice for those of us who are rusty on our Spanish!) and has warm, colorful illustrations. A good history lesson, and sadly still reflective on current attitudes in this country towards those of Latinx descent.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I knew things like this happened in the world but I had never heard of Lemon Grove before. I loved all of the notes included in the story-it's an important topic that we need to keep discussing and learning from. I'm interested to see what my Hispanic students think of this book. I knew things like this happened in the world but I had never heard of Lemon Grove before. I loved all of the notes included in the story-it's an important topic that we need to keep discussing and learning from. I'm interested to see what my Hispanic students think of this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Plaza

    Lots of facts in a true telling of the first court challenge to segregation in California. Interviews with family of those we were present for the court fight make this especially valuable for young readers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bkrieth

    Wow! There is a lot going on in this book! Completely bilingual, it offers a DETAILED history of not only the Lemon Grove segregation case, but also federal cases that followed, a corrido that tells the story, and an explanation of corridos as a musical form. Jam packed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Great introduction to the groundbreaking 1951 school desegregation case. Bilingual in Spanish and English. See also Duncan Tonatiuh's Separate is Never Equal (Abrams, 2014). Great introduction to the groundbreaking 1951 school desegregation case. Bilingual in Spanish and English. See also Duncan Tonatiuh's Separate is Never Equal (Abrams, 2014).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Great dual language element, great story of courage

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    Don’t remember learning about this case.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    Spanish H161 2019

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Travers

    I hope to use this in the Spanish classroom to teach the history of the Roberto Álvarez vs the Board of Trustess of the Lemon grove school district in addition to Mexican corridos

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    3.75 Stars I am sick and tired of racism. I just don't understand what the color of our skin has to do with anything! UGG! It is all based on fear and in this country the fear is executed by uneducated white males. That might be a hasty generalized but, racism and lack of education seem to go hand in hand! This is a great book about Mexican Americans (born in American) and standing up for what is right! Also, for the bilingual crowd it is in Spanish and English, I read it in English, and I would 3.75 Stars I am sick and tired of racism. I just don't understand what the color of our skin has to do with anything! UGG! It is all based on fear and in this country the fear is executed by uneducated white males. That might be a hasty generalized but, racism and lack of education seem to go hand in hand! This is a great book about Mexican Americans (born in American) and standing up for what is right! Also, for the bilingual crowd it is in Spanish and English, I read it in English, and I would love to hear it in read in Spanish. This book needs to be purchased for our Bilingual section!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Denise Kick

  26. 5 out of 5

    Berkelee Marie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Gmitrovic

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris G.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)

  30. 4 out of 5

    John

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