Danny's tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile per hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.

But at his private school they don’t expect much from him. Danny’s half Mexican. And growing up in San Diego means everyone else knows exactly who he is before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes. And that’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. To find himself, he might just have to face the demons he refuses to see right in front of his face.
© Heather Waraksa
Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Medal–winning author of Last Stop on Market Street. He is also the author of the award-winning picture books Carmela Full of Wishes, Love, and A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, and seven critically acclaimed young adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. You can visit Matt at mattdelapena.com, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mattdelapena. View titles by Matt de la Peña
Dressed in a well-worn Billabong tee, camo cargo shorts and a pair of old-school slip-on Vans, Danny Lopez follows his favorite cousin, Sofia, as she rolls up on the cul-de-sac crowd with OG swagger.

A bunch of heads call out to her, "Hey, Sofe!" "Yo, girl!" "There she is!" and wave.

Sofia waves back, pulls Danny by the arm toward a group of girls sitting on a blanket in an uneven semicircle. "Oye putas," she says. "Yo, this my cousin Danny I was telling you about. He's gonna be staying with me for the summer." She smiles big--proud, Danny thinks. "Yo, cuz, these are my girls." She points them out and rattles off names: "Carmen, Raquel, Angela, Bee, Juanita, Flaca and Guita."

"Hey," the girls singsong in unison.

Danny nods with a shy smile, aims his eyes at the asphalt. He feels the heat of their stares and for a second he wishes he could morph into one of the ants zigzagging in and out of tiny crevices in the street. Their little lives, he thinks, totally off the radar.

Danny's sixteen, a shade over six foot and only a year younger than Sofia, but unless he's on a pitching mound he feels like a boy. He's long and thin with skinny arms hanging down skinny thighs--his arm length the reason he can fire a fastball so hard. His shoulders are wide, but his muscles have yet to catch up. Sometimes when he sees himself in a mirror it looks like his shirt is propped up by an upside-down coat hanger. Not a human body. Doesn't even look real.

And Danny's brown. Half-Mexican brown. A shade darker than all the white kids at his private high school, Leucadia Prep. Up there, Mexican people do under-the-table yard work and hide out in the hills because they're in San Diego illegally. Only other people on Leucadia's campus who share his shade are the lunch-line ladies, the gardeners, the custodians. But whenever Danny comes down here, to National City--where his dad grew up, where all his aunts and uncles and cousins still live--he feels pale. A full shade lighter. Albino almost.

Less than.

"And just so you know," Sofia adds, "Danny ain't no big talker, all right? He's mad smart, gets nothin' but A's at the best private school in San Diego, but don't get your chones in a bunch if you can't never pull him into a convo." Sofia looks prettier than Danny remembers. Less of a tomboy. Her hair long now, makeup around her eyes.
Carmen clears her throat, says: "He don't need to talk to give me no deep-tissue massage." She gives Danny an exaggerated wink.

"Ain't need no words for us to soak in a nice Jacuzzi bath together," Flaca says. She reaches out, puts her hand on one of Danny's Vans. "We can just sit there, Papi. Backs against them jet thingies. Take turns sippin' a little white Zin and shit. How's that sound, beautiful?"

Danny gives her a polite smile, but inside he's shrinking. He's trying to suck back into his shell, like a poked and prodded snail.

Behind his back he grips his left wrist, digs his fingernails into the skin until a sharp pain floods his mind, makes him feel real.

Angela and Bee comb Danny over with their almond-shaped eyes, devour his out-of-place surfer style like a pack of rabid dogs. Danny cringes at how different he must seem to his cousin's friends. They're all dark chocolate-colored, hair sprayed up, dressed in pro jerseys and Dickies, Timberlands. Gold and silver chains. Calligraphy-style tats. Danny's skin is too clean, too light, his clothes too soft.

Discussion Guide for Mexican WhiteBoy

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

  • WINNER
    ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • WINNER | 2009
    LatinoStories.com Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch (and Read)
  • WINNER | 2008
    Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
  • NOMINEE
    Arizona Young Readers Award
  • NOMINEE
    New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award
"[A] first-rate exploration of self-identity."-SLJ

"Unique in its gritty realism and honest portrayal of the complexities of life for inner-city teens...De la Peña poignantly conveys the message that, despite obstacles, you must believe in yourself and shape your own future."-The Horn Book Magazine

"De la Peña does an excellent job...Readers see themselves in Danny, Uno, and Sofia, whether or not they share their backgrounds. In the end, they find themselves wanting the characters to succeed."-VOYA

"The baseball scenes...sizzle like Danny's fastball...Danny's struggle to find his place will speak strongly to all teens, but especially to those of mixed race."-Booklist

"De la Peña blends sports and street together in a satisfying search for personal identity."-Kirkus Reviews

"Deftly explores the subject of interracial mixing."-Multicultural Review

"Matt de la Peña has done the impossible; fired a perfect fastball on the low inside corner and hit a towering home run at the same time. A tough, funny, edgy, hopeful story about friendship under fire and love in its true sense."-Chris Crutcher, author of Deadline and Whale Talk

"Mexican WhiteBoy...shows that no matter what obstacles you face, you can still reach your dreams with a positive attitude. This is more than a book about a baseball player--this is a book about life."-Curtis Granderson, New York Mets outfielder

An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

A Junior Library Guild Selection

About

Danny's tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile per hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.

But at his private school they don’t expect much from him. Danny’s half Mexican. And growing up in San Diego means everyone else knows exactly who he is before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes. And that’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. To find himself, he might just have to face the demons he refuses to see right in front of his face.

Author

© Heather Waraksa
Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Medal–winning author of Last Stop on Market Street. He is also the author of the award-winning picture books Carmela Full of Wishes, Love, and A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, and seven critically acclaimed young adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. You can visit Matt at mattdelapena.com, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mattdelapena. View titles by Matt de la Peña

Excerpt

Dressed in a well-worn Billabong tee, camo cargo shorts and a pair of old-school slip-on Vans, Danny Lopez follows his favorite cousin, Sofia, as she rolls up on the cul-de-sac crowd with OG swagger.

A bunch of heads call out to her, "Hey, Sofe!" "Yo, girl!" "There she is!" and wave.

Sofia waves back, pulls Danny by the arm toward a group of girls sitting on a blanket in an uneven semicircle. "Oye putas," she says. "Yo, this my cousin Danny I was telling you about. He's gonna be staying with me for the summer." She smiles big--proud, Danny thinks. "Yo, cuz, these are my girls." She points them out and rattles off names: "Carmen, Raquel, Angela, Bee, Juanita, Flaca and Guita."

"Hey," the girls singsong in unison.

Danny nods with a shy smile, aims his eyes at the asphalt. He feels the heat of their stares and for a second he wishes he could morph into one of the ants zigzagging in and out of tiny crevices in the street. Their little lives, he thinks, totally off the radar.

Danny's sixteen, a shade over six foot and only a year younger than Sofia, but unless he's on a pitching mound he feels like a boy. He's long and thin with skinny arms hanging down skinny thighs--his arm length the reason he can fire a fastball so hard. His shoulders are wide, but his muscles have yet to catch up. Sometimes when he sees himself in a mirror it looks like his shirt is propped up by an upside-down coat hanger. Not a human body. Doesn't even look real.

And Danny's brown. Half-Mexican brown. A shade darker than all the white kids at his private high school, Leucadia Prep. Up there, Mexican people do under-the-table yard work and hide out in the hills because they're in San Diego illegally. Only other people on Leucadia's campus who share his shade are the lunch-line ladies, the gardeners, the custodians. But whenever Danny comes down here, to National City--where his dad grew up, where all his aunts and uncles and cousins still live--he feels pale. A full shade lighter. Albino almost.

Less than.

"And just so you know," Sofia adds, "Danny ain't no big talker, all right? He's mad smart, gets nothin' but A's at the best private school in San Diego, but don't get your chones in a bunch if you can't never pull him into a convo." Sofia looks prettier than Danny remembers. Less of a tomboy. Her hair long now, makeup around her eyes.
Carmen clears her throat, says: "He don't need to talk to give me no deep-tissue massage." She gives Danny an exaggerated wink.

"Ain't need no words for us to soak in a nice Jacuzzi bath together," Flaca says. She reaches out, puts her hand on one of Danny's Vans. "We can just sit there, Papi. Backs against them jet thingies. Take turns sippin' a little white Zin and shit. How's that sound, beautiful?"

Danny gives her a polite smile, but inside he's shrinking. He's trying to suck back into his shell, like a poked and prodded snail.

Behind his back he grips his left wrist, digs his fingernails into the skin until a sharp pain floods his mind, makes him feel real.

Angela and Bee comb Danny over with their almond-shaped eyes, devour his out-of-place surfer style like a pack of rabid dogs. Danny cringes at how different he must seem to his cousin's friends. They're all dark chocolate-colored, hair sprayed up, dressed in pro jerseys and Dickies, Timberlands. Gold and silver chains. Calligraphy-style tats. Danny's skin is too clean, too light, his clothes too soft.

Guides

Discussion Guide for Mexican WhiteBoy

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Awards

  • WINNER
    ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • WINNER | 2009
    LatinoStories.com Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch (and Read)
  • WINNER | 2008
    Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
  • NOMINEE
    Arizona Young Readers Award
  • NOMINEE
    New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award

Praise

"[A] first-rate exploration of self-identity."-SLJ

"Unique in its gritty realism and honest portrayal of the complexities of life for inner-city teens...De la Peña poignantly conveys the message that, despite obstacles, you must believe in yourself and shape your own future."-The Horn Book Magazine

"De la Peña does an excellent job...Readers see themselves in Danny, Uno, and Sofia, whether or not they share their backgrounds. In the end, they find themselves wanting the characters to succeed."-VOYA

"The baseball scenes...sizzle like Danny's fastball...Danny's struggle to find his place will speak strongly to all teens, but especially to those of mixed race."-Booklist

"De la Peña blends sports and street together in a satisfying search for personal identity."-Kirkus Reviews

"Deftly explores the subject of interracial mixing."-Multicultural Review

"Matt de la Peña has done the impossible; fired a perfect fastball on the low inside corner and hit a towering home run at the same time. A tough, funny, edgy, hopeful story about friendship under fire and love in its true sense."-Chris Crutcher, author of Deadline and Whale Talk

"Mexican WhiteBoy...shows that no matter what obstacles you face, you can still reach your dreams with a positive attitude. This is more than a book about a baseball player--this is a book about life."-Curtis Granderson, New York Mets outfielder

An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Books for LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

In June we celebrate Pride Month, which honors the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan and highlights the accomplishments of those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual + (LGBTQIA+) community, while recognizing the ongoing struggles faced by many across the world who wish to live as their most authentic selves. Here is

Read more

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

Read more

PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

Read more

PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

Read more