Many of us grew up with Sonia Manzano. We just didn’t know it. To us, for 44 years, she was Maria and she lived on Sesame Street. However, Sonia Manzano is much more than the television character she portrayed (as wonderful and iconic as that character continues to be). One of the many aspects of Manzano’s life that we might be less familiar with, even as educators, is her writing. Manzano has written several books for children and young adults, the first being The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano which is a Pura Belpre Honor Book of 2013.
In the summer of 1969, Rosa Maria Evelyn del Carmen Serrano wants things to be different in her neighborhood of Spanish Harlem. No more working at her family’s bodega–she gets a job at the five-and-dime. Listening to her mother lecture her about how Puerto Rican girls should act–no thank you. And there are too many girls named Rosa–she is Evelyn.
Evelyn is a little unhappy when her abuela comes to stay, because she has to give up her room, but this is nothing compared to how her mother feels . Evelyn’s abuela seems to be the exact opposite of her mother. She says what she feels, does what she wants, and stands up for what she believes. This becomes especially apparent when the Young Lords come to Harlem. This group of activists believe in Puerto Rican self-determination and neighborhood empowerment, which reminds Abuela of all that she fought for back home in Puerto Rico. Evelyn is excited to join the movement and she isn’t at all surprised that her mother feels differently, but the reasons behind her mother’s hesitation are not at all what Evelyn expected.
Many books about social justice movements focus on the larger, societal impacts of these revolutions or on a single individual who is fighting for justice. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano shows us how large social movements impact smaller groups, like families. There are multiple revolutionary characters in this book, each of them complex, and their individual revolutions are at the heart of Manzano’s unforgettable book.
Identity 5: I know there are similarities and differences between my home culture and the other environments and cultures I encounter, and I can be myself in a diversity of settings.
Diversity 10: I can explain how the way groups of people are treated today, and the way they have been treated in the past, shapes their group identity and culture.
Justice 15: I know about some of the people, groups and events in social justice history and about the beliefs and ideas that influenced them.
RL.2- Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
RL.3- Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
RL.6- Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.