Felipe Alou

Book Title Felipe Alou
Author(s) Carol Gaab
Illustrator(s) Irene Jiménez Casanova
Other Contributors Felipe Alou
Published by Fluency Matters
Genre Histories and Biographies
Publication date 2012
#Ownvoices No
From the author/publisher’s website

Total Word Count

Illustrations                    YES 
Glossary                          YES  
Guiding Questions       NO  
Context                            NO  

Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities

Languages spoken
Some English

Sex and Genders


Social classes
Working Class
Middle Class
Sexual Orientation



Family Structures

Body Type

From the author/publisher’s website 

Under ordinary circumstances, the odds of being struck by lightning are far greater than the odds of becoming a Major League Baseball player, and Felipe Alou’s circumstances in 1955 were anything but ‘ordinary’… As a non-English-speaking black athlete living in the Dominican Republic, Felipe was anything but the ideal candidate for success in the U.S., especially during the height of the Civil Rights movement. This is Felipe’s amazing (true) story of perseverance and determination to beat overwhelming odds and insurmountable obstacles to become one of baseball’s greatest players and managers.

To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

The illustrations match Felipe Alou’s lived experiences.

We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.

Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?

This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. 

Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Teaching Tolerance
Identity: Promote a healthy self-concept and exploration of identity
Diversity: Foster intergroup understanding
Justice: Raise awareness of prejudice and injustice
Action: Motivate students to act by highlighting individual and collective struggles against injustice
Felipe Alou is a moving true story about a Dominican baseball player in the United States in the 1950s. The story is inspiring and highlights the values of resilience and persistence. Throughout the book, we see how Felipe Alou trusted in what he had and worked hard to achieve his dreams.

The story begins with the deep and tragic history of the Dominican Republic and its racial discrimination against Haitians, who tend to be of darker skin complexion. At the same time, Felipe Alou also faced racial discrimination in the United States for being Afro-Latino. In addition, the story allows the reader to reflect on the topic of racism and how much work we have to do as a society and as individuals. Felipe Alou’s story is written in a respectful manner and opens up a dialogue about racial justice. Although his story ends well, it is important to notice that systemic racism is still a current issue. Not all stories have a happy ending, like Felipe’s. Not everyone gets a chance.

3.18.2022 We previously identified the examples below as language imperialism.  By nature, authors of comprehensible readers create texts that maximize comprehension of the language for language learners whose first language is English, and this can result in unintended language imperialism when the author’s native language is not Spanish.  We acknowledge that this is a complex concept and that there are many forms of expression among speakers of any language – what appears to function as language imperialism to one individual may not to another for various reasons.  We are looking forward to growing our understanding of this concept through future research and dialogue.

There are several examples of language imperialism. On page 10, we see “Para Felipe y sus hermanos, era ordinario estar con gente negra y con gente blanca”. Which may translate to: For Felipe and his brothers, it is ordinary to be with people that are black and white”. However, in Spanish the word “ordinario” translates to so low, low quality, or so cheap. Other occurrences include:
P. 18 “Estaba en conflicto” instead of “Tenía un conflicto”
P. 22 “Estaba muy confuso….” instead of “ Estaba confundido”

It is worth thinking about how the use of words that look like cognates change and affect meaning. Also, our lenses determine the way we write: throughout the story, we can see English logic and translation. This makes heritage speakers uneasy as to who is driving the Spanish language. Authentic texts may be out of the reach for some language learners; however, major interferences with the Spanish language can result in unintended language imperialism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close