Reviewed by Elena Young
Review Source: Teaching for Change
Book Author: Juan J. Guerra
Reviewer Elena Young is a volunteer with Teaching for Change and aspires to be a social studies teacher.
The Little Doctor/El Doctorcito is about a child (Salvador) and his grandmother navigating the health care system in the United States. Salvador’s grandmother asks him to accompany her to the doctor because she does not speak English. When they arrive at the clinic, they ask for a Spanish-speaking doctor and are told the clinic does not have one. After waiting in a very long line, they are seen by a doctor who comes quickly into the room and rudely informs them that his grandmother’s blood pressure is high while Salvador translates. The doctor prescribes medication and tells the grandmother to stop eating so much Mexican food, despite the fact that her family is from El Salvador. The grandmother refuses the medication and is upset by the doctor’s lack of care and empathy. This experience ignites Salvador’s dreams of becoming a doctor so that patients can have doctors that speak both English and Spanish.
Some readers have commented that the combination of challenges faced by Salvador and his grandmother seems exaggerated or extreme. However, the book highlights situations that will be familiar to many of our students and their families and can open the door to their own stories.
As a recipient of Medicare myself, I can attest to the fact that the long lines depicted in the book are a common reality. The story sheds light on another important issue: the inability to find doctors who speak the patient’s native language and/or who are familiar with their culture. Salvador’s determination to find out how to become a doctor after seeing how his grandmother is treated is an inspirational story for children of all nationalities. Don’t miss the last page that tells the story of the real Salvador, author Juan J. Guerra, who based the book on his own experiences as the child of an immigrant family. Salvador teaches us to follow our dreams and to never give up in our goal of achieving a more equitable and representative society.
Another benefit of this bilingual book is that the beautiful illustrations depict a range of skin colors.
Here is another review of The Little Doctor, from the DeColores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children website. The reviewer does not recommend the book.
Doctorcito by Juan J. Guerra
Published by Arte Publico Press on 2017
Genres: Family, Health, Immigration and Emigration
Reading Level: Grade K, Grades 1-2
Review Source: Teaching for Change
Buy at Powell's Books
Publisher's synopsis: Salvador raced home from school to share exciting news with his abuela: he made an A+ on his science test! But at home, he learns that his grandmother needs his help. She is going to the doctor and wants her grandson to interpret for her. Abuela is nervous because she has never been to a doctor in the United States. In El Salvador, she either saw a curandera or drank té de manzanilla when she felt sick. When he learns that none of the physicians speak Spanish, the boy realizes that he is completely responsible for making sure the doctor understands his grandmother--and that she understands his instructions! But in spite of his help, the visit does not go well. The doctor rushes in and out. He doesn't listen to Abuela. And he tells Salvador that she should not eat so much Mexican food! Abuela is so upset that she threatens not to take the medication the doctor prescribes! What can Salvador do to help her?In this engaging bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8, a young Salvadoran boy dreams of becoming a doctor who speaks both English and Spanish so that patients like his beloved grandmother aren't afraid to visit the doctor. Paired with lively, colorful illustrations by Victoria Castillo, this book will encourage children to think about their own futures as well as the role their culture can play in helping the community.