Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter

Scholastic. Mar. 2023. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781338283419.
Gr 2-5–A gorgeous picture book about a groundbreaking woman who fought for gender equality and made a mark on Mexican history. Told by the subject’s great niece and based on her memoir, this biography centers around Jovita Valdovinos, a young woman who longed to wear pants and follow in her brothers’ and father’s footsteps as they revolted against the socialist Mexican government that took away citizens’ right to practice their religion freely. The daring and courageous teenager went against her family’s wishes, cut off her hair, wore pants, renamed herself Juan, and led fellow peasants in the Cristeros War (1926-29). This telling hits the perfect balance of lively and lyrical, giving readers the sense that this larger-than-life legend is worthy of awe and celebration. The empowering message that young people should cast gender-limiting stereotypes and barriers aside to do what’s right will feel revelatory for readers. Mendoza’s magnificent artwork was composed using digital brushes and color; bright, jewel-toned images seem to leap off the page, perfectly matching Valdovinos’s sweeping story. Readers will be able to feel the wind on their faces as she gallops on her horse and accomplishes great feats. Back matter includes a more detailed account of Valdovinos’s life, author and artist’s notes, and archival photos.
VERDICT Purchase this outstanding picture book biography for all nonfiction collections.

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