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Ryan, Pam Munoz.
BECOMING NAOMI LEON
New York : Scholastic, 2004.
IL 5-8, RL 6.8
ISBN 0439269695

(5 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews

Click to hear audio excerpt

Booktalk #1

As Naomi Leon Outlaw's great-grandmother would say, the good and bad of any situation are sometimes the same.  It doesn't seem that way to Naomi.  She and her brother have become accustomed to living with their great grandmother.  Their mother left years ago and Owen barely remembers her.  Naomi sometimes dreams of her mother coming back but she isn't prepared for what happens when she does!  Unannounced, she just shows up after seven years.  Naomi is thrilled at first but then she notices how her mother is treating Owen.  Owen can't help it if he is a FLK -- funny looking kid.  He has some problems that will take some operations to correct but that will have to wait til he's full grown.  When Naomi finds out that her mother plans to take Naomi with her but leave Owen, she and Gram have to take drastic action.

Booktalk #2

Naomi and her family are in turmoil. She is shy, has to wear polyester clothes that her grandmother sews, and has no talent other than carving soap. Nothing seems right anymore. Naomiís mother returns after a seven-year absence and wants to reclaim Naomi and her brother. Naomiís grandmother is determined to keep this from happening so the family quickly travels to  Mexico to introduce Naomi to her relatives and to give her a feeling of family. When she meets her father, she understands why her grandmother tried so hard to teach her to be proud of herself. (Prepared by Celeste Stone, SCASL Childrenís Book Awards)

Booktalk #3

What if you havenít seen your mother in over seven years? What if she left you with her grandmother and never looked back and then suddenly she shows up and expects you to act as if sheís always been part of your life? This is what happens to Naomi and her little brother Owen. Until their mother, Skyla, shows up, they had been living a pretty happy life with Gram in a trailer they call Baby Beluga. Skylaís plan is to take Naomi to live with her and her boyfriend, but she doesnít want anything to do with Owen. Just because Owen was a FLK (funny looking kid) and had all those doctor appointments and would need an operation, that was no reason for Mama to leave him behind. Gramís solution was to hitch up baby Beluga and take a trip to  Mexico to find Naomiís real father. What Naomi finds in  Mexico is a family with a proud and rich heritage. (Prepared by: Kathleen Butler, SCASL Junior Book Awards)

Booktalk #4

Naomi Soledad León Outlaw has had a lot to contend with in her young life, her name for one. Then there are her clothes (sewn in polyester by Gram), her difficulty speaking up, and her status among her classmates as "nobody special." But according to Gram's self-prophecies, most problems can be overcome with positive thinking. Luckily, Naomi also has her soap carving, a talent at which she excels. And life at Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho in Lemon Tree, California, with Gram and her little brother, Owen, is happy and peaceful. That is, until their mother reappears after seven years of being gone, stirring up all sorts of questions and challenging Naomi to discover and proclaim who she really is.  (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2006-2007)

Booktalk #5

ďGram said that when you thought positive, you could make things happen, and when it did happen, it was called a self-prophecy. If you wanted to be the best speller in the class, you said to yourself over and over, ďI am the best speller in class,Ē and then before you knew it, you were practicing it and becoming it. It was sort of like magic, and Gram believed it to her bones. But it didn't always work the way I hoped.Ē
Naomi Soledad León Outlaw has spent the last seven years of her life living with her great grandmother and younger brother Owen. She has little memory of her father, and only knows that her soap carving abilities came from him. When her mother shows up after those seven years, Naomi has hope that her mother is going to be a part of her life again. But as her motherís true personality starts to show, Naomi begins to question who she really is. Pam Muñoz Ryan, Pura Belpré winning author, shares some of her Mexican heritage through Becoming Naomi León, an uplifting story about family, challenges, and discovering oneís own identity.
(Becky K, rckrase@comcast.net, college student)
 

SUBJECTS:     Great-grandmothers -- Fiction.
                        Brothers and sisters -- Fiction.
                        Family problems -- Fiction.
                        Mexican Americans --  Fiction.
                        Mexico -- Fiction.

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