Thursday, November 29, 2012

Week 14

We're rolling along into Week 14 and our theme is Community. Here we're invited to consider all the people who are part of our day-to-day lives-- whether we always recognize them or not. Guadalupe Garcia McCall has written a beautiful poem for fifth grade that gives us a glimpse into a sometimes overlooked neighbor. It offers an interesting counterpoint to last week's poem about a grandmother and both are by two of our most prominent Latina poets writing for young people today (Guadalupe Garcia McCall and Margarita Engle). Here is an excerpt of Guadalupe's poem.

Doña Pepita
   by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Doña Pepita has three sons
Who run away when she needs
Help in the garden.

She doesn't understand English.
"Que Chula!" she says
When I come over to help pull weeds

Dona Pepita bends over
And with her knife she cuts
The vines that free the calabazita,
A freckled zucchini she has been
Nurturing there all season.

"Que bonita, verdad?" she says,
Waiting for my approval.
I nod my head and she hands it to me.
"Llevatela," she says. And I haul it home,
Wondering what I could've done
To deserve such a treasure.

[You will find the poem in its entirety on p. 240.]

Take 5 Activities

1. Read this poem aloud noting that it incorporates a few Spanish words that may need a bit of explaining such as Doña Pepita (Mrs. Pepita), Que Chula (that pretty girl), calabazita (zucchini), Que bonita, verdad (That’s beautiful, right?), Llevatela (Take it). If possible, invite a Spanish speaker to assist you.

2. Share the poem again, inviting two students to pantomime the actions in the garden while you read the poem aloud.

3. Talk with students about practical ways to be helpful to older neighbors.

4. This poem is an example of free verse. It doesn’t rhyme, but guide students in seeing how the lines and line breaks build to create a poem. Talk about how the Spanish words contribute to our understanding of the characters and themes of the poem.

5. A natural companion to this poem is “Abuelita” by Margarita Engle (1st Grade, Week 13) or selections from Juanita Havill’s book I Heard It from Alice Zucchini: Poems About the Garden. 

Join the Poetry Friday gathering at the Poem Farm hosted by the wonderful Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.

And don't forget our special poetry e-book giveaway ending Dec. 12. Details below!


  1. Can you imagine how many people would be THRILLED if their young neighbors were inspired by this poem to help with weeding? I would happily say thank you with my best vegetables (or fruit or flowers or iTunes cards or books or chocolate for my young weeders AND GUADALUPE)!

  2. Man oh man, what a movement I would like to see take off! We can only hope, and continue to lead by examples.

  3. I always adore poems with two languages woven together, the richness of the weave makes me long to be bilingual. Thank you - such a warm moment here on the brink of Buffalo winter. a.