By: George Ancona
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish, 2001
Age Level: 9-12
Campesinos are migrant farm laborers who come to the Unites States in search of a better life. They come to pick lettuce in California or pears in Oregon. They come because they can earn in one day here what they would earn in one week back home. Yet, as celebrated photojournalist George Ancona shows in his striking photo study, these unassuming men and women work hard for every penny they make.
Between May and November, campesinos like Raul and Teresa from Mexico work 12-hour days, six days a week. Harvesting strawberries in the fertile Salinas Valley, they labor under a hot sun, bent over and breathing in dust and pesticides. Some like Señor Jesus Suarez, who retired when he was 70, work until they can no longer keep up with the younger people. Others like Isabel Sorio eventually leave the fields to attend night school.
To keep up their spirits, they tell jokes and gossip—all the while dreaming of a brighter future for their children. For, with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, it will be these boys and girls who’ll attend college rather than endure the backbreaking work of their parents. An important book with telling photographs, Harvest is sure to help kids appreciate what parents of all kinds try to do for their offspring.
- Américas Award Commended List, 2002
- An NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, 2002
“Once again, Ancona’s expert photographs extend and support an informational story, this time of migrant workers, campesinos. Readers see striking images of farm workers on the job, with heads and faces wrapped for protection from the sun and pesticides. The pictures tell a story of strenuous labor undertaken by both the young and the old. They create a photo study that places readers in a largely unknown world whose work graces our tables day in and day out. A child’s personally made storybook and autobiographical sketches written by adult migrants are included. A brief biography of a farm labor organizer, Cesar Chavez, brings Ancona’s Harvest to a fitting close. Students reading the book will get a taste of the campesino life and plight without bitterness. On the contrary, many smiling faces populate its pages with determined dreams for a better life.”
– Consortium of Latin American Studies Program (CLASP)
“This photo-documentary focuses on the lives and works of Mexican migrant workers as they pick various crops on the West Coast…will make a lasting impression on readers”
– School Library Journal