Jimenez, Francisco 1943–

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Jimenez, Francisco 1943–

PERSONAL: Born June 29, 1943, in San Pedro, Tlaquepaque, Mexico; immigrated to United States, 1947, naturalized citizen, 1965; son of Francisco (a farm laborer) and Maria (a cannery worker; maiden name, Hernandez) Gonzalez Jimenez; married Laura Catherine Facchini (a teacher), 1968; children: Francisco Andres, Miguel Antonio, Tomas Roberto. Ethnicity: "Latino/Mexican-American." Education: University of Santa Clara, B.A., 1966; Columbia University, M.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1972; attended Harvard University, 1989. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Home—624 Enos Ct., Santa Clara, CA 95051. Office—Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA 95053; fax: 408-554-4887. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Columbia University, New York, NY, instructor, 1971–72, assistant professor of Spanish, 1973; University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA, assistant professor, 1973–77, associate professor, 1977–81, professor of modern languages and literature, 1981–, member of board of trustees of the university, 1981–87; director of Division of arts and humanities, 1981–90, director of Mexico summer study program at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1984–, Phil and Bobbie Sanfilippo Professor, 1986–, associate vice president for academic affairs, 1990–94. Visiting professor at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, summer, 1987, 1997; lectured at California State University—Bakersfield, San Diego State University, California State College (now University), Dominguez Hills, Stanford University, University of Texas—Austin, Harvard University, University of Notre Dame, Graduate Theological Union, and Wellesley College. Director of Institute of Poverty and Conscience, 1985; member of board of directors of Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development, 1988–94. California State Commission for Teacher Preparation and Licensing, vice chairman, 1976–77, chairman, 1977–79; member of board of directors of Circulo Artistico y Literario, 1980–90; vice chair of California State Humanities Council, 1987–91; member of Western Association Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC), 1989–95, board of directors, 1992–95; member of bilingual advisory board of California Student Aid Commission, 1995; consultant to WNET-TV; member of board of trustees of Archbishop Mitty High School, 1995–.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America (member of Delegate Assembly, 1989–92), American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Hispanic Institute of the United States, National Chicano Council on Higher Education, National Association on Chicano Studies, Institute of Latin American Studies, American Association for Higher Education, Asociacion Latino Americana de Bellas Artes (member of board of directors, 1979–), Pacific Coast Council of Latin American Studies (member of board of governors, 1977–79), Association of California Teachers of Foreign Languages, Raza Administrators and Counselors in Higher Education.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1966, faculty development grant, 1983; National Defense Foreign Language fellow, 1968–69, 1969–70, and 1970–71; Ford Foundation grant, 1969; annual award, Arizona Quarterly, 1973, for short story "The Circuit"; Distinguished Leadership in Education Award, California Teachers Association, 1979; teaching grant, Santa Clara University Services Award, 1983; award for "dedicated and continuous service in education," Association of Mexican American Educators, 1986; Resolution of Commendation, California State Legislature and California State Commission on Teacher Credentialing, both 1986; Americas Award, 1997; College of Arts and Sciences Dave Logathetti Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1997; Teacher of the Year, for Santa Clara County, 1998; California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition, for outstanding achievement of meritorious nature benefitting students of Clara County, 1998; Professor Cedric Busette Memorial Award, for outstanding contributions to ethnic studies, 1998; Dia del maestro: Teacher of the Year Award (university category), Santa Clara County, 1998; SCU Faculty Senate Professor Award, 1998; Smithsonian Notable Book for Children, Smithsonian Institute, 1998, and Parents' Choice Recommended Award, 1999, both for La Mariposa; Jane Addams Honor Book Award, John and Patricia Beatty Award, California Library Association, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, all 1998, Smithsonian Notable Book for Children designation, and Book for the Teen-Age designation, New York Public Library, both 1999, and FOCAL Award, Los Angeles Public Library System, 2001, all for The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child; Key to the City of Long Beach for contributions to education, Mayor of Long Beach, 1999; Plate of Bounty, U.S. State Department of Education, 1999; Popular Paperback for Young Adults, American Library Association, 2000; Local Hispanic Hero in the San Francisco Bay Area, Telemundo KSTS-48 and Estereo Sol 98.9 FM, 2001; Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice, Cuffie Award for best treatment of a social issue, Publishers Weekly, Notable Children's Book, American Library Association, and Americas Commendment List, all 2001, all for The Christmas Gift; Pura Belpré Award Honor Book designation, 2002, for Breaking Through; named U.S. Professor of the Year, CASE/Carnegie Foundation, 2002.


Episodios nacionales de Victoriano Salado Alvarez (title means "National Episodes of Victoriano Salado Alvarez"), translated from the original English by Nicolas Pizarro Suarez, Editorial Diana (Mexico City, Mexico), 1974.

Chicano Literature: Sources and Themes, Bilingual Press (Jamaica, NY), 1974.

(With Gary D. Keller) Viva la lengua! A Contemporary Reader (title means "Long Live Language"), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1975, second edition, with Rose Marie Beebe, 1987.

(With Gary D. Keller and Nancy A. Sebastiani) Spanish Here and Now, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1978.

(Editor) Identification and Analysis of Chicano Literature, Bilingual Press (Jamaica, NY), 1978.

(Editor, with Gary D. Keller) Hispanics in the United States: An Anthology of Creative Literature, Bilingual Press (Jamaica, NY), Volume 1, 1980, Volume 2, 1982.

Mosaico de la vida: Prosa chicana, cubana, y puertorriquena (title means "Mosaic of Life: Chicano, Cuban, and Puerto Rican Prose"), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1981, second edition, 1987.

Poverty and Social Justice: Critical Perspectives, Bilingual Press (Jamaica, NY), 1987.

Work represented in anthologies, including Perspectivas: Temas de hoy y de siempre, edited by Mary Ellen Kiddle and Brenda Wegmann, Holt (New York, NY), 1974, second edition, 1978; Purpose in Literature, edited by Edmund J. Farrell, Ruth S. Cohen, and others, Scott, Foresman, 1979; Fronteras, edited by Nancy Levy-Konesky and others, Holt, 1989; Mexican American Literature, edited by Charles Tatum, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1990; and Points of View: An Anthology of Short Stories, edited by James Moffett, Mentor, 1995. Contributor to Dictionary of Mexican-American History; contributor of articles, stories, and reviews to periodicals, including Arizona Quarterly, American Hispanist, Owl, Bilingual Review, Tiempo, Riversedge, California History, Los Angeles Times Book Review, and Hispania. Member of editorial advisory board of the series "Studies in the Language and Literature of United States Hispaños," Bilingual Press. Cofounder and West-Coast editor of Bilingual Review/La Revista Bilingue.

Author's works have been published in Spanish translation.


The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (for young adults), University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1997.

La Mariposa (title means "The Butterfly"), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.

Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad, illustrated by Claire B. Cotts, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.

Breaking Through (for young adults), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.

ADAPTATIONS: The Circuit and Breaking Through were both adapted as audiobooks, read by Robert Romirez, Recorded Books, 2001 and 2003, respectively.

WORK IN PROGRESS: La correspondencia de Victoriano Salado Alvarez; research on the Mexican-American oral tradition; a Spanish translation of Breaking Through, to be published by Houghton Mifflin; a third novel under contract with Houghton Mifflin.

SIDELIGHTS: A former illegal immigrant migrant worker, Francisco Jimenez returned to the United States as a young teen and has gone on to earn advanced college degrees and a career as a respected educator and author. Crediting his education at a Jesuit college for much of his success, Jimenez told an interviewer for Migration World: "Any successes attributed to anyone are the result of many people in our lives, caring about each other and supporting us." In an effort to help others in achieving their own success, Jimenez has authored several inspiring books for young children and teens, among them La Mariposa, The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child, and Breaking Through, all of which draw from the author's personal experiences as the member of a migrant farm family.

In La Mariposa Jimenez introduces young readers to a first grader whose education is made more difficult by the fact that he does not speak English. Moreover, Francisco begins school in January, well after the rest of the students in his first-grade class have become settled in their new experience, learned the routine, and made fast friends. A dreamer with a talent for drawing, the boy eventually wins the respect of his classmates, despite several setbacks, in this bilingual English-Spanish picture book, based on the author's own experiences failing the first grade.

The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child expands on the problems faced by the young boy in La Mariposa: balancing the desire for education with the need to help one's family earn a living in the fields, the language barrier, and poverty. The protagonist of these stories is Panchito, whose home has been a succession of migrant camps and schools, and who longs for a teacher who will help him catch up to other students his age. As Horn Book reviewer Hazel Rochman noted of the award-winning effort, in The Circuit Jimenez avoids "sermonizing" in favor of compelling descriptions of "the physicalness of the back-breaking work, the yearning for education, for place." One story in The Circuit was adapted and published separately as The Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad, a picture book that explores the true meaning of the holiday season by depicting a Christmas spent in the migrant camps. Noting that the tales collected in The Circuit realistically portray the lives of the thousands of Mexican Americans for whom "the American dream never comes to fruition," Library Journal contributor M. Otero-Boisvert added that Jimenez lifts "the story up from the mundane" through his depiction of "the strong bonds of love that hold this family together."

Jimenez continues his focus on children by addressing older readers in Breaking Through, a sequel to The Circuit that finds Panchito—now grown and called Frankie—facing increasing responsibilities as a teen whose father is frustrated over his inability to provide for his family. Fortunately, the family is now able to stay in one place, and jobs picking strawberries before and after school are gradually replaced by less-arduous office cleaning work. While noting that Breaking Through is not as "taut" as Jimenez' first volume, Rochman wrote that the author "writes with simplicity about a harsh world seldom seen in children's books," and his young protagonist "celebrates his Mexican roots even as he learns to be an American." Roger Sutton added in Horn Book that while the story's protagonist is "remarkably well behaved,… one never senses overneatening by the author; rather, his truth to his teenaged self demonstrates a respect that embraces the reader as well."

Jimenez once commented with regard to his writing for young people: "My primary goal … is to fill the need for cultural and human understanding, between the United States and Mexico in particular. I write in both English and Spanish. The language I use is determined by what period in my life I write about. Since Spanish was the dominant language during my childhood, I generally write about those experiences in Spanish. My scholarly research has been published in both English and Spanish. Because I am bilingual and bicultural, I can move in and out of both American and Mexican cultures with ease; therefore, I have been able to write stories in both languages. I consider that a privilege."



Cassidy, Jack, and other editors, Follow the Wind, Scribner (New York, NY), 1987.

Meier, Matt S., Mexican-American Biographies, Greenwood Publishing Group (Westport, CT), 1988.

Meier, Matt S., Notable Latino Americans: A Biographical Dictionary, Greenwood Publishing Group (New York, NY), 1997.


America, December 21, 2001, Allen Figueroa Deck, review of Breaking Through, p. 22.

Booklist, December 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child, p. 619; March 1, 1999, Annie Ayres, review of La Mariposa, p. 1220; September 1, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of The Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad, p. 132; September 1, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Breaking Through, p. 109; November 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Breaking Through, p. 478; January 1, 2002, review of Breaking Through, p. 765.

California Today, October 19, 1980.

El Observador, November 20, 1997.

Hispano, December 26, 1977; February 19, 1979; October 8, 1986.

Horn Book, September-October, 1998, p. 532; January, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of The Circuit, and Jimenez' award acceptance speech, p. 49; January, 2000, p. 61; November-December, 2001, Roger Sutton, review of Breaking Through, p. 772.

KLIATT, January, 2004, Sunnie Grant, review of Breaking Through, p. 52.

La Oferta Review, June 17, 1998.

Library Journal, June 1, 2001, M. Otero-Boisvert, review of The Circuit, p. 55.

Miami Herald, October 12, 2001.

Migration World, September-October, 1995, Loretta Penahich, "Former Illegal Migrant Worker Gains University Honors," p. 43; November 4, 1995.

Publishers Weekly, October 5, 1998, review of La Mari-posa, p. 90; November 15, 1999, p. 68; September 25, 2000, Elizabeth Deveroux, review of The Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad, p. 72; August 27, 2001, "Breaking Through Chronicles," p. 86.

Sacramento Bee, March 20, 1999.

San Francisco Chronicle, December 25, 1997.

San Jose Mercury News, April 18, 1993.

Santa Maria Times, October 23, 1997.

School Library Journal, October, 2000, review of The Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad, p. 60; September, 2001, Carol A. Edwards, review of Breaking Through, p. 225; October, 2003, Barbara Wysocki, review of Breaking Through (audio version), p. 93.

Semanario Azteca, November 3, 1986.

West Magazine, April 5, 1998.

World Literature Today, winter, 1981; spring, 1983.

Writing, February-March, 2001.


Francisco Jimenez Home Page, http://www.fajimenez.com/ (August 5, 2004).

Santa Clara University Web site, http://www.scu.edu/ (August 5, 2004), "Francisco Jimenez."

Tolerance.org, http://tolerance.org/ (August 5, 2004), Jeff Sapp, "Summer Reading: Books by Francisco Jimenez."

Unitarian Universalist Association Web site, http://www.uua.org/ (August 5, 2004), Rev. Keith Kron, book discussion guide for The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child.

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