"Esperanza Rising" by Pam Muñoz Ryan, 1924–Los Higos

When tragedy strikes, Esperanza's family has to leave their ranch in Mexico and move to a farmworkers' camp during the Great Depression.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: 1924–Los Higos, Las Guayabas–Las Cebollas, Las Almendras–Las Papas, Los Aguacates–Las Uvas

Here is a link to our lists for Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. arbor
    a framework that supports climbing plants
    Leafy green vines draped the arbors and the grapes were ready to drop.
  2. tendril
    slender structure by which some plants attach to an object
    He gently touched a wild tendril that reached into the row, as if it had been waiting to shake his hand.
  3. scythe
    an edge tool for cutting grass
    The short blade was curved like a scythe, its fat wooden handle fitting snugly in her palm.
  4. reap
    gather, as of natural products
    The campesmos, the field workers, spread out over the land and began the task of reaping the fields.
  5. serenade
    sing and play for somebody
    Tomorrow was her birthday and she knew that she would be serenaded at sunrise.
  6. congregate
    come together, usually for a purpose
    Papa and the men who lived on the ranch would congregate below her window, their rich, sweet voices singing Las Mananitas, the birthday song.
  7. adobe
    sun-dried brick used in hot dry climates
    In the dusky light, she walked around the courtyard to the back of the large adobe and wood house.
  8. confirm
    establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts
    “Bad luck,” said Mama, confirming the superstition, but she half-smiled.
  9. resentment
    a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
    They both knew that even though it was 1930 and the revolution in Mexico had been over for ten years, there was still resentment against the large landowners.
  10. distinguished
    standing above others in character or attainment
    She looked very distinguished, wearing a respectable black dress, the same gold loops she wore in her ears every day, and her white hair pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck.
  11. capricious
    determined by chance or impulse rather than by necessity
    But Esperanza loved her more for her capricious ways than for her propriety.
  12. propriety
    correct behavior
    But Esperanza loved her more for her capricious ways than for her propriety.
  13. lopsided
    having one side lower or smaller or lighter than the other
    The tops of her mountains were lopsided and the bottoms of her valleys were all bunched up.
  14. neglected
    lacking a caretaker
    He loved the land as Papa did and it had been the two of them, working side by side, who had resurrected the neglected rose garden that had been in the family for generations.
  15. taunt
    harass with persistent criticism or carping
    Miguel would look at her and before riding off with Papa, he would give her a taunting smile.
  16. distracted
    having the attention diverted especially because of anxiety
    Distracted, Mama paced at the window, each step making a hollow tapping sound on the tile floor.
  17. dwindle
    become smaller or lose substance
    They tried to pass the time with small talk but their words dwindled into silence.
  18. tallow
    a hard substance used for making soap and candles
    It wasn’t until the candelabra held nothing but short stubs of tallow that Mama finally said, “I see a lantern. Someone is coming!”
  19. despair
    a state in which all hope is lost or absent
    She fell to her knees and sank into a dark hole of despair and disbelief.
  20. anguish
    extreme distress of body or mind
    Her smile faded, her chest tightened, and a heavy blanket of anguish smothered her smallest joy.
  21. ambush
    wait in hiding to attack
    Papa and his vaqueros had been ambushed and killed while mending a fence on the farthest reaches of the ranch.
  22. condolence
    an expression of sympathy with another's grief
    In front of the adults, Esperanza modeled Mama’s refined manners, accepting Marisol’s condolences.
  23. wistfully
    in a pensively sad manner
    Her porcelain face looked wistfully at Esperanza with enormous eyes.
  24. encroach
    impinge or infringe upon
    At first, they stayed only a few hours, but soon they became like la calabaza, the squash plant in Alfonso’s garden, whose giant leaves spread out, encroaching upon anything smaller.
  25. composure
    steadiness of mind under stress
    Mama did not answer but maintained her composure.
  26. indignation
    a feeling of righteous anger
    A look of indignation passed between Mama and Abuelita.
  27. pretentious
    creating an appearance of importance or distinction
    “But he could build another house, bigger and more pretentious anywhere on the property,” said Mama.
  28. devious
    characterized by insincerity or deceit
    “But be careful. He is a devious, dangerous man.”
  29. intend
    have in mind as a purpose
    “There are rumors in town that Luis intends to take over the ranch, one way or another. Now that it seems true, we will probably leave for the United States to work.”
  30. pervade
    spread or diffuse through
    Their overripe sweetness now pervaded the air with each breath of wind.
  31. silhouette
    an outline of a solid object as cast by its shadow
    Esperanza stood in the middle of it all, watching the outline of her home silhouetted in flames against the night sky.
  32. deliberate
    carefully thought out in advance
    The flames ran along the deliberate rows of the vines, like long curved fingers reaching for the horizon, lighting the night sky.
  33. salvage
    save from ruin, destruction, or harm
    Avoiding the smoldering piles, she picked through the black wood, hoping to find something to salvage.
  34. consult
    get or ask advice from
    She was looking up, as if consulting the angels.
  35. charity
    a kindly and lenient attitude toward people
    You would have to depend on the charity of others, and they would be afraid to help you.
  36. smirk
    a smile expressing smugness or scorn instead of pleasure
    Esperanza was quiet and stared at the dirt, hiding the smirk on her face.
  37. waif
    a homeless child especially one forsaken or orphaned
    And those clothes, Ramona! They are not fitting for a woman of your stature, and Esperanza looks like a waif.
  38. valise
    a small overnight bag for short trips
    Esperanza held a valise filled with clothes, a small package of tamales, and her doll from Papa.
  39. sprawling
    spreading out in different directions
    Then Mama took a determined breath and headed toward the sprawling trees.
  40. venom
    a feeling or spite, ill will, or maliciousness
    She hurried after Mama, knowing that she might never come back to her home again, and her heart filled with venom for Tio Luis.

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