The Upside Down Boy

El nino de cabeza

Book Information

Title: The Upside Down Boy/ El nino de cabeza

Author: Juan Felipe Herrera

Illustrator: Elizabeth Gomez

Genre: Bilingual Picture Book

Topic: patience and time will help find your place

About this book

This book is about a boy whose family settles down in a new village so he is able to attend school for the first time. At school Juanito feels out of place and misses the country life they left behind. He does things backwards from the other students and is confused with the new language. With the help of teachers, family and new friends he finds his voice and begins to enjoy school and all that comes with his new life.


The author of this book is Juan Felipe Herrera. Juan wrote this book as his memoir of his own personal experience of his family settling down and being able to go to school for the first time. Juan has many talents including poet, cartoonist, writer and performer. He has produced at least twenty-one works of literature in his time.


Elizabeth Gomez is the illustrator of this book. This is the first children's book that she has gotten the opportunity to illustrate. Elizabeth is a native of Mexico City and enjoys using exquisite and bright colors.


Inclusion Criteria

Cultural Character

Throughout the book the names used for the characters were very authentic to the culture it was representing. Some character names included Juanito, Papi,and Mr. Andasola. The characters move from jobs that would be authentic for the culture. Throughout the book the characters treat each other and speak with one another in a manner that is authentic to their culture and background.

Diverse Language

This book is written in both English and Spanish languages. Throughout the English portions things are pronounced or said with a spanish accent. I found this to be interesting and added to the cultural authenticity of the book. For example when they move they live on Juniper street, the book shows that the family pronounces it "Who-nee-purr". The culture the family is from is never talked about but just perceived as normal. I liked that the book still wrote in normal English but added little hints of culture within the print.


The illustrations in this book were incredible and very interesting. The pictures followed with the spanish culture and used bright colors and many details. Added in the illustrations were little hints and pieces of the culture they came from. The characters in the book are demonstrated well through the illustrations. Details associated with the culture and background are incorporated within the characters themselves and their surroundings.

Illustrations From The Book

Lesson Plan

Common Core Standard

CCSSELA-Literacy.RL.3.2- Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.


The student will be able to recount main parts of the story

The student will be able to identify the theme or message of the story

Lesson Idea

  • The lesson will begin by having the students brainstorm a time they may have felt left out or lonely. This could be at school, home, summertime, or others they may think of. Have the students think about how this made them feel, what they did to fix the situation, and what may have helped them along the way.
  • We will then, as a class, read the book "The upside down boy" in the reading corner of the classroom. While reading the teacher will ask questions about the culture, the boys situation at school, and how the other kids treat each other.
  • When the teacher is finished reading the book the students will be dismissed to return to their seats. The students will then be asked to fill out a six box story retell worksheet. On the worksheet the students will write characters in the story, setting, culture being portrayed and what happened in the story.
  • The teacher will then remind the students about the stories they came up with at the beginning of the lesson about being left out and lonely. The teacher will ask the students and have a class discussion about how their stories related to the main characters problems at school. How were they similar? How were they different?
  • The teacher will then have the students write on the back of their worksheet what they think is the moral of the story. The students can write it out, add a picture, or give examples. When the students are done the teacher will ask for some examples and talk about them with the class. The students will then turn the worksheet in.

Selections From The Book


page one by kshowa


Herrera, J.F.,& Gomez, E. (2000). The Upside down Boy: El nino de cabeza. San Francisco: Children's Book Press/Libros para ninos.

By: Kristin Showalter