Book Title Quince
Author(s) Jennifer Degenhardt
Illustrator(s) Emmaleah Vickers
Other Contributors
Published by Self published
Genre Realistic Fiction
Publication date 2019
#Ownvoices NO
From the author/publisher’s website
Depending on your students this can be a level 1 or a level 2 book.

Total Word Count

Illustrations                    NO 
Glossary                          YES  
Guiding Questions       NO  
Context                            NO  

Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities

Languages spoken

Sex and Genders


Social classes
Working Class

Sexual Orientation



Family Structures
Extended family

Body Type

From the author/publisher’s website 

One year just after Christmas when Ximena is thirteen, she overhears her parents talking – a conversation she is not supposed to hear. She catches the word, “father,” but wonders why they are whispering? Federico is the only father Ximena has ever known since he and her mom married six years ago. Of course, she knows she has a biological father, but her mom never talks about him – and Ximena never asks. All she knows is that he is “away” and doesn’t live near them. But after overhearing her parents’ discussion, she starts to wonder why she has no contact with him. At the same time, too, life is becoming more challenging for Ximena in school – academically, but mostly socially. And, after learning what “away” really means, she is faced with a decision that will alter her life. At the age where her friends and cousins are having their quinceañeras (many of which are much more extravagant than the one she knows her parents will be able to afford for her), Ximena is also forced to confront some ugliness that arises with the occurrence of these parties. Feeling like an outsider even in her own community, she begins to question everything about who she is. It’s not until she starts communicating with Daniel that her life changes even more – as if she needs the extra drama. In this story, read how a father and a daughter finally learn of each other’s existence and how they navigate that connection in challenging times; ones of overwhelm and danger. Can their newfound relationship withstand the pressures of life? Teachers: depending on your students this can be a level 1 or a level 2 book.
To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

The cover art depicts a darker skin tone heteroparental family with dark hair. Above the family, in a thought cloud stemming from the young lady at the center of the cover art, we see the mysterious shape of a man in an orange jumpsuit. The cover art is not a positive or thoughtful representation of identities because it connects prison to Mexican culture. In the US there is a history of school to prison pipeline that can be triggering for the Mexican community. When a cover shows a connection between characters of color and prison, there is a risk of perpetuating a harmful stereotype before even reading the story.

There are no other illustrations besides a black and white photo of a dog (p. 43).
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?
1. Characters of color are assumed to have low family wealth, low educational attainment and/or low income.
2. Social situations and problems are seen as individual problems, not situated within a societal context.
3. Characters of diverse backgrounds are represented stereotypically.

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

Quince is a level 1 or 2 story in Spanish that focuses on Ximena, a young thirteen-year-old teenager that is getting ready to celebrate her quinceañera party. Ximena recently discovered that the person she thought of as her father is not her biological father. Her biological father is in prison. Through a series of letters, Ximena and her biological father, Daniel, develop a close relationship.  

The use of letters as part of the narrative helps the reader see examples of the first and second person tense. There are 16 letters in the story between Ximena and Daniel. In most of these written interactions there is a greeting and goodbye. The rest of the narrative is written from the perspective of Ximena or Daniel.  

Ximena is described as a complex and thoughtful character: she is open to getting to know her father and, through correspondence, they get to know each other and develop a strong connection. This relationship grows with time, and even though they are apart, they give each other the chance to learn and share. Ximena is also able to negotiate the traditions of her quinceañera party (p. 62). For example, she does not need to wear heels or be given a toy doll. This is helpful and thoughtful because Ximena is empowered to make her own decisions based on her beliefs and values as an individual. She also adapts some traditions to what makes her feel comfortable, breaking some expectations set for girls at this age. 

A dog named Dave is also introduced to the story (p. 22). Daniel is in a program in prison to help train dogs that will later be adopted. This part of the story shows the importance of helping each other, and how, when we help someone in need, in this case an animal, we end up helping ourselves as well. Animal advocacy is present throughout this novel. 

Characters of color are assumed to have low family wealth, low educational attainment and/or low income. Ximena writes to her father that her family does not have enough money to buy her a dress for her quinceañera party (p. 67). Therefore, Daniel gives her all of the money he has saved in prison. Daniel explains that he does not get paid much in prison (p. 84). 

Social situations and problems are seen as individual problems, not situated within a societal context. Daniel is in prison because of an accident, but there is no further information (p. 27). It is not clear why he has to spend 13 years in prison. Daniel is later attacked by other inmates as the date to meet Ximena in person approaches (p. 74). In American films and social media, Mexicans are usually associated with violence and prison. In addition, the school to prison pipeline has led many Mexicans and people of color to end up in the prison system, which becomes profit for wealthy corporations that own these prisons. We are not sure of Daniel’s ethnicity. Because of this color evasiveness and the fact that everyone else is Mexican and Mexican-American, the reader may assume that Daniel is Mexican, perpetuating “Hollywood” stereotypes that Mexicans are typically in prison. And since this story is not #OwnVoices, there is no insider perspective on the lived experiences of a Mexican girl with a father in jail. Therefore, if the book is used as a class novel, the teacher must be ready to discuss the societal context and systemic racism that brought Ximena’s dad to prison. However, if the book is simply sitting in a classroom library for free-choice reading, then students don’t get a chance to discuss and name what they read.

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.

Finally, there is some language imperialism:
P. 5: “Hace dos semanas escribí a la mamá de Ximena” – when it should be “Hace dos semanas LE escribí a la mamá de Ximena”.
P. 44: “Aunque no tengo muchas ganas de hacer nada, siempre contesto a Daniel” – when it should be “Aunque no tengo muchas ganas de hacer nada, siempre LE contesto a Daniel”.
P. 53: “Ella paga un dinero y se llena unos formularios” -when it should be “Ella paga un dinero y llena unos formularios”.
P. 73   “No puedo esperar” (p.73) is directly translated as “I can’t wait”, however, the equivalent phrase in Spanish is ‘no veo la hora’.

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