In this engaging children’s picture book based on the imagined childhood of activist Dolores Huerta—who grew up to become a champion of farmworkers and their families and the founder of the United Farm Workers Union based in California—young readers encounter a vivacious, energetic child with a compassionate heart and an insatiable desire to talk.
Dolores is called Lola by her family and nicknamed Lolita Siete Lenguas—meaning Little Lolita, Seven Tongues, all fighting to be heard—by her grandfather. Lola’s family runs Hotel Delano, which serves mostly poor farmworkers. At times, hotel guests are unable to pay for their lodgings, but Lola’s mama doesn’t turn them away. She accepts vegetables in payment, or, if they have nothing to offer, allows them to stay for free. Lola and Mama “kept their hearts open. They kept their sleeves rolled up. They kept their hands ready to help.”
When Lola witnesses two farmworkers—a woman and a girl—being kicked off the streetcar in front of the hotel because they can’t pay the fare, she remembers what her grandfather once told her: “Sometimes, one strong voice is just what we need.” And she recalls Mama’s words about household chores, “If you see a problem, fix it! Don’t pretend it isn’t there.” So Lola marshals Mama and the hotel guests, and Lola’s “one brave voice” leads the way to help the mistreated woman and girl.
In an author’s note, Jennifer Torres writes, “Dolores has said her first lessons in social justice came from watching the compassion with which her mother treated hotel guests, letting them pay in produce when they didn’t have cash—sometimes letting them stay without paying anything at all.”
Illustrator Sara Palacios’ spirited, expressive artwork captures Lola’s passion and sensitivity, beautifully bringing to life Jennifer Torres’ narrative about the character and childhood of a justice seeker in the making. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)