Title: Becoming Naomi Leon
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Press, 2004
Genre: Multicultural, Realistic fiction, novel
Grade Level: 4-6
Summary: Naomi and Owen live with Gram in Lemon Tree, California. Owen has a slight handicap but is extremely bright. Naomi likes to make lists all the time of everything she can think of, and hate her last name which is Outlaw. The kids make fun and she hates it. Throughout the book she is trying to find her true identity and become happy. Naomi and Owen's mother, Skyla comes back after several years and tries to act like she wants to get her children back. In reality all she wants is to take Naomi (for a babysitter for her boyfriends daughter) and leave Owen because of his handicap. Gram has to fight for custody and they even start a search for their father. In the end Gram is awarded custody and everyone is happy that they get to stay together!
Response: I thought this book a little hard to get into. It took me a while to actually enjoy reading it. I don't really know why I couldn't become interested in it. Once I read it I thought it was an enjoyable book, but not one of my favorites. I did like the way the author used English and Spanish throughout the reading. It brought out the Mexican culture more, and made it more realistic. The mixture of languages showed great cultural markers. Also, the different traditions and celebrations that took place in the book showed cultural markers. The author did a good job of integrating them naturally. It may not have been my favorite book, but it was a decent book and would be good for a multicultural discussion.
Teaching Ideas: I would use this book in an upper elementary classroom to talk about Mexican culture. I would have everyone read this novel and then do a book report on it. They would have to figure out the best part of the story they liked and make a visual to represent that section of the story. Then they would have to present it to the class and share their thoughts on the book and their thoughts on Mexican culture.