Armando and the Blue Tarp School

“A wonderful story about the joy and privilege of learning told in a way that celebrates those responsible for change and hope in the little-recognized world of the pepenadores.”

- Susan Sarandon, Academy-Award Winning Actress

“. . . tale of triumph for the human spirit”

- Entertainment News

“. . . a book that infuses culture and compassion, hope and healing into a language arts lesson . . . This bilingual treasure, beautifully illustrated by Hernán Sosa, is filled with enrichment possibilities. I love the glossary [with] Spanish vocabulary . . . The healing effects of art therapy [are] woven into this jewel [with its] potential for dialogue about empathy using the Think and Discuss questions on the book's website.”

- Barbara Gruener, Character Counts! Chronicle

“This affecting tale-of a plein-air schoolroom in a deeply impoverished neighborhood populated by pepenadores (trash pickers)-springs from the real deal. Fine and Josephson have taken the story of David Lynch, who first went to Mexico in 1980 to teach children living in the Tijuana city dump, and fashioned it into a picture book. Fictional, yes, but only marginally so. Their story pivots around Armando, who scours the dump with his father all day long for anything of worth, and his thirst to join the classroom: a blue tarp on the bare ground. Though Armando's income is vital to the family, his parents come to understand that only an education will allow him to eclipse pepenadore life. The simplicity of the story is what lets it run deep, its bite of realism; no sermons are being delivered here, just a door thrown open to life under reduced circumstances (Sosa's artwork, with its look of leaded glass, conveys a benevolent quality to the proceedings). Without patronizing, Señor David defines the essence of humanitarianism, while the pepenadores, ever searching for beauty in the beast, find gold-and prize it.”

- Kirkus Reviews

“Armando and his family live in a colonia near the Tiajuana city dump. Like most of their neighbors, they eke out a meager living by hunting through the mounds of foul-smelling garbage for anything they can use or sell. Then Señor David arrives, spreads a blue tarp on the ground, and sets up a school. At first the boy's parents are reluctant to let him attend because they need him to work for the family, but eventually they realize that this school could lead to a better life for their son. An extensive author's note explains that Señor David is based on David Lynch, a former special-education teacher who has devoted 27 years to teaching children like Armando in a similar colonia. The well-written text will be an eye-opener for children who take school for granted.”

- School Library Journal

“This poignant picture book narrated by a young boy is based on a true story of a New York City teacher who set up a school on a blue tarp spread on the ground near a garbage dump in Tijuana, Mexico. Armando works all day with his father in the foul-smelling dump, picking through trash, "some to sell, some to use." He begs his parents to let him go to the blue tarp school, and at last, his parents allow him to attend in the afternoons. Clear, unframed, double-page pictures in watercolor and ink with thick white outlines show the children on the tarp in the midst of the noisy colonia (neighborhood) and also the bond between the boy and his teacher. When a huge fire burns the neighborhood, Armando's picture of the fiery night is printed alongside the story in the newspaper, and people send money to build a real schoolhouse. A lengthy final note fills in the facts and includes photos of the teacher and the pupils at the school now. Without melodrama, Armando's story shows what poverty means and the hope that things can change.”

- Booklist

“. . . [T]his moving and informative book teaches a number of valuable economics lessons related to poverty, child labor, opportunity cost, and education. The authors do an excellent job communicating the difficult living conditions of the most vulnerable of the poor-children who work rather than go to school and live in shacks alongside the dump. . . . Not only are the immediate conditions miserable, with the foul smell, heat, noise, and flies, but the longer-term prospects of growing up without an education are bleak as well. . . . [H]ope for a different kind of future marches into [Armando's] life when his parents give him permission to attend a school at the dump that was recently started by Señor David. Armando understands that the decision is not an easy one for his parents, who depend on his income from picking trash. . . . This book makes a tremendous addition to any collection of children's literature that focuses on high quality content. With its developing-country setting and the story of the real Señor David Lynch at the back, the book is as realistic as it is inspiring.”

- Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

“. . . Armando and the Blue Tarp School is a children's picturebook based on true events. . . . [an] upbeat book about hope for the future. Especially recommended as a way to remind young boys and girls how lucky they are to have the opportunity to learn.”

- Midwest Book Review

“This book makes a tremendous addition to any collection of children's literature that focuses on high quality content. With its developing country setting and the story of the real Señor David Lynch at the back, the book is as realistic as it is inspiring.”

- Rutgers University Book of the Month, December 2007

“Because he must help his father, Armando does not have time to attend Señor David's school, made of a single blue tarp spread on the ground. When his parents realize that education is Armando's only way out of their impoverished circumstances, they give him the afternoons to learn about the world beyond their garbage dump. This story is based on the experiences of a real-life teacher who spent decades teaching some of Mexico's poorest children.”

- The Bloomsbury Review

“. . . author notes explain the true story of teacher David Lynch's efforts to educate children in Mexico living amongst mounds of trash. Recommended.”


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