Monday, November 20, 2017

Trina by Patricia Miles Martin

When ever I read an older book that was written for children, I worry about negative stereotypes. Trina by Patricia Miles Martin was published in 1967, but Martin does well on presenting her Hispanic characters well.

Young Trina lives in a boxcar. Her father works for the railroad, and he is moved around often, so they hook up their box car and go from place to place. Trina has lived in her current town for a while, and longs to stay. She struggles to learn to read English, and her older brother doesn't help. He talks for her because she takes longer to formulate her answers. This makes Trina feel like she has no voice. Her mother insists that they speak Spanish in the home. Her father can understand English, but he can't read or write it.

Trina has high hopes when a new teacher comes, but her brother dashes those hopes by embarrassing her in front of the teacher and every student in the school. Trina and her father come up with a plan to help Trina read and speak English, but it isn't easy, and it takes a lot of work for Trina to progress. Many miscommunications happen in this story, and the children must find their way past them in order to create and maintain friendships.

I thought Martin captured well the frustrations of learning a second language. She also shows the importance of learning about different cultures and making sure that no one is the other.

This book was originally titled Trina's Boxcar and it is currently out of print.

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

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