Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter by Aida Salazar, illustrated by Molly Mendoza

Published by Scholastic Press

Summary:  Jovita wanted to wear pants, but girls growing up in 1910’s rural Mexico were expected to wear dresses.  She played with her brothers every chance she got, learning about the countryside: how to find food and water, where dangerous animals lived, and how to read the weather.  When revolution came to her village, her father and brothers joined the fight, but Jovita wasn’t allowed to.  War brought one tragedy after another, as her house was burned down, she was captured and held hostage for a time, and her father and brothers were killed.  After their deaths, Jovita cut her hair, put on pants, and joined the revolution as a soldier named Juan.  Her knowledge of the countryside made her a natural leader, and she fought for six years before finally agreeing to a truce with the government.  The President of Mexico was so impressed with her fighting skills that he invited her to a meeting.  She went on her own terms, still wearing the pants she loved.  Includes five pages of additional information with photos, plus notes from the author and illustrator.  48 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  Badass doesn’t begin to describe Jovita Valdovinos, whose legendary feats make for inspiring Women’s History Month reading.  The colorful illustrations capture her energy, and the additional information makes for some very interesting reading.

Cons:  Despite her heroics, Jovita’s early life sounds pretty terrible.

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