Cover image for In the shade of the níspero tree
In the shade of the níspero tree
Bernier-Grand, Carmen T.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
186 pages ; 22 cm
Because her mother wants her to be part of the world of high society in their native Puerto Rico, nine-year-old Teresa attends a private school but loses her best friend.
Reading Level:
640 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.1 6.0 67334.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.1 10 Quiz: 24244.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Because her mother wants her to be part of the world of high society in their native Puerto Rico, nine-year-old Teresa attends a private school but loses her best friend.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. Set in Puerto Rico in 1961, this story features Teresa Giraux and her best friend, Ana, who are looking forward to their fourth-grade teacher's wedding and the Ponce junior queen competition--until Teresa's pride and temper fracture their friendship. A socially ambitious seamstress, Teresa's mother has never invited Ana on family outings because Ana is not only poorer, she's also darker. Aided by one of her wealthy clients, Teresa's mother enrolls Teresa in an exclusive academy. Then it is she and Teresa who feel the sting of discrimination when they're excluded from a fashionable country club. Realizing how poorly they've treated Ana and her family, they give Ana Teresa's beautiful gown for the beauty pageant, an attitude shift that is both heartwarming and believable. Despite awkward patches and a tendency to belabor societal differences, this first novel vividly re-creates its particular time and place. It also imparts a very clear message about intolerance. Paired with Eleanor Estes' The Hundred Dresses (1944), with its own lessons of prejudice and dignity, this could spark lively classroom discussion. --Linda Perkins

Publisher's Weekly Review

With a mother born to la sociedad (high society) and a father who disdains it, Teresa struggles to understand the prejudices of 1960s Puerto Ric0. PW said, "The author's portrait of Teresa, caught between her parents' polarized views, is especially well realized." Ages 9-12. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-A story about growing up in the 1960s in class-conscious Puerto Rico. Tere's father owns an auto-repair shop and her mother is a dressmaker. Mami aspires to fit into high society and especially to have her daughter attend the prestigious private Academia school. Papi does not want Teresa associating with snobs and does not think that they can afford it. And Tere doesn't want to leave her best friend, Ana. But when Tere and Ana attend their teacher's wedding and Tere notices the darkness of the groom's skin, Ana helps open her friend's eyes to the fact that their teacher, most of their friends, and Ana herself are black. Tere is stunned. "I couldn't believe it! To me, for somebody to be black, she or he had to be really black and have full lips and a wide nose...." It is then that Tere begins to become aware of her mother's blatant racism. Then, caught in a foolish lie at school, she decides to transfer to the Academia. As she tries to make her way among the competitive, shallow girls there, she loses herself again and again until she and her mother both finally see truth and mend their friendships. Tere never does come off as a fourth grader; while sometimes naive, her character seems more like an adolescent. Yet there are strong characterizations here, of both children and adults, and the immersion into a different culture is thorough and effective.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.