Presented by Whitney Bohnenblust EDEL 411 Section C

by Diane Gonzales Bertrand & Illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland

Gonzales- Bertrand , D. (2004). My pal, victor. (1st ed., pp. 4-32). McHenry, Illinois: Raven Tree Press.

Information About the Book

Genre: Juvenile Realistic Fiction
Topic/Theme: Friendships and Children with Disabilities
  • American Library Association Schneider Family Award
  • New York Reading Association Recommended Reading List

About the Author

Diane Gonzales Bertrand

"I just want to write. I never set out to make any political statements. I just wanted to write stories about people like myself, and I just happen to be Mexican-American." What a great statement coming from such a wonderful writer and now creative writing teacher. Bertrand was the youngest of seven children. Her imagination and love for writing became known at a young age and she began writing her own poetry verses in high school. She received her bachelors degree in English. In order to fulfill the need she saw to help others realize the connection between one's self-esteem and their ability to communicate, she went on to pursue her masters in English. She wanted to become a strong writer herself so that she could help students learn, especially Mexican-Americans, to write.

About the Illustrator

Robert L. Sweetland

Sweetland graduated from American Academy of Arts, the Illinois Institute of Design/Technology and the University of Green Bay, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He was the illustrator of five children's books including, My Pal, Victor. Additionally, he wrote "The Artist's Notebook," which is a sixty-two week newspaper series. He also served as an artist of the National Football League Portrait Promotion, which displayed 565 NFL portraits. Sweetland passed away in 2007 leaving all of his work behind for all of us to enjoy.

Selected Illustration

Big image
This illustration shows the bond that Victor and his friend have. The dog is included in every picture as he is always by the friend's side. Sweetland used colored pencils to create the ever so realistic pictures of Victor and his friend's adventures. This picture is my favorite because it tells the reader that even though Victor's friend is in a wheelchair, it didn't stop them from developing a friendship that is stronger than most.

Criteria for High Quality Muliticultural Literature

This book portrays the cultural accuracy and authenticity of the characters in that their physical characteristics align well with the Latino-American look. Victor and his friend both have the darker skin and hair. Additionally they have brown eyes. When thinking of a Latino-American, those visual characteristics are what pop in my mind.

My Pal, VICTOR also demonstrates an invitation for reflection, critical analysis, and response. For the first time at the very end of the story, the author lets the reader know that the friend is in a wheelchair. The author does not come out and state that, however the friend says, "But the most important thing about my pal, Victor, is that he likes me just the way I am." Based on that statement and then also the powerful illustration above the reader gathers that even though the friend was in a wheelchair it did not stop them from doing all sorts of fun activities together and having a strong friendship bond. This topic would allow readers to analyze if they were ever in this situation how they would go about being friends with a child in a wheelchair. My hope would be that after reflection of the story, they see how the wheelchair didn't stop the boys from reaching their utmost potential as friends.

The language within the story reflects distinctive vocabulary, style, and patterns of speech of the cultural group. This book is very helpful for ELL students. It has the story in both English as well as Spanish. The English is on top with a line underneath it. Below the line is the story in Spanish. I think that ELL students could read the story Spanish as the teacher was reading it in English, as long as they could see the words. This would help in the development of English for those learners.

My Pal, Victor Lesson Idea

Grade 4
Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

  • First off, My Pal Victor has many different teaching ideas within it. A teacher could use it to help a Spanish speaking ELL learner with reading. It could be used to teach English speakers the Spanish language. Additionally, a teacher can focus on the standard above and teach not only the theme within this story but cover themes of other stories as well.
  • To start off, I would read the story. Throughout the story we would discuss what all was taking place. I would have the students relate to the characters in the story because the two boys, Dominic and Victor, do so many enjoyable activities together. I would ask questions such as
    • What kind of activities do Dominic and Victor do together?
    • What does pal mean? Why does Dominic call Victor his pal?
    • Did the wheelchair keep Dominic from hanging out and doing everything with Victor?
    • What do you and your friends do to have fun? ***After asking the above questions, the answers will serve as a perfect way to lead into the theme. The teacher will define theme. Then she will divide the students up into groups of four. Once in these groups, each team will write up the theme from the story My Pal Victor. After all of the groups have finished, each will share with the class what they come up with. The teacher will make sure that the students understand that the theme is all about friendships and life lessons. The life lesson in My Pal Victor, is that everyone needs a friend and just because someone is in a wheelchair it does not mean that they are not capable of keeping up and fulfilling all of the desired traits of a good friend.
  • The last activity will have the same groups each read a different book that all portray life lessons. The job of each group will be for them to read the book, discover the theme, and share with the class what life lesson it is trying to demonstrate.


My, Pal Victor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand by whitneybohn