Educator’s Guide: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina is the selection for the LAII’s Vamos a Leer book group meeting scheduled for September 8, 2014. The standards are not included here, but are included with the lesson plans in the PDF. The complete guide is available for download at no cost: Vamos a Leer Educator’s Guide: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.
To read our thoughts on the novel, see our book review.
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
- 2014 Pura Belpré Award
- 2014 International Latino Book Award, Best Young Adult Fiction/English
- 2014 Américas Award Commended Title
- 2013 Junior Library Guild 2013 Selection
- 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
- 2013 Kirkus Best Books for Teens
- 2013 School Library Journal Best Books
Medina is the author of several children’s, young adult, and adult books. Medina is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Her family immigrated to the United States as political exiles. She grew up in Queens, New York. She currently resides in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, children, and a host of other family members.
Medina has been an author for over fifteen years. Much of Medina’s work focuses on young Latinas. Medina often uses inspiration from her own experiences as a Cuban-American for her stories. She also draws on her family’s stories and experiences from Cuba. When asked why she tends to write books that are heavy on Latino culture, Medina has said, “I think it’s really essential that we present really respectful, accurate examples of who we are: all the different people who make up what we call family” (source). Medina’s work also emphasizes various themes that are of special importance to young adults. For example, one of her more recent works, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, focuses on the theme of bullying. Also, Medina’s portrayal of female characters is unique. She tends to shy away from institutional stereotypes, and her work is laden with female protagonists.
Milagros: a Girl from Away was released in 2008 and was Medina’s first young adult novel. Some of her other works that are appropriate for students include Tía Isa Wants a Car (a children’s book) and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind.
Medina’s work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people, and both what is unique about Latino culture and to the qualities that are universal to all cultures. Her favorite protagonists are strong girls. Her books have received sterling reviews, and she is the 2012 winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award.
When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or literacy.
Check out Meg Medina’s website for more information about the author.
If you’d like to read what others have thought about the book, check out the links to other reviews below:
If you’re interested in hearing what the author herself has to say about the book, check out the following online interview:
LESSON PLANS AND ACTIVITIES:
Resources for Teaching About Bullying:
In Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass Meg Medina confronts the reality of bullying in our schools today. Much has been written about bullying and how to prevent it. Below we’ve included some helpful resources that teachers may want to read before they begin a unit using Medina’s book, or that can be incorporated into the unit and used with students.
- In Lyn Mikel Brown’s Rethinking Schools article “10 Ways to Move Beyond Bully-Prevention (and why we should),” Brown examines discourse around bullying, the failure of universalized anti-bullying programs, and ways we can confront bullying while empowering our students. It would be an excellent article to use with students. Students could read the article and then discuss Brown’s 10 points—what they agree and/or disagree with; what they would add to the discussion; their own evaluation of anti-bullying efforts in schools; and how they would address bullying.
- In the Teaching Tolerance Unit, “Dealing with Dilemmas: Upstanders, Bystanders and Whistle-Blowers” students will think about how to resolve difficult ethical decisions related to injustice. By role-playing, researching people who have made courageous ethical decisions, and writing about their own role models, students will come to understand the importance of standing up for what they believe in.
Guided Reading Questions:
Chapter 1 | Pages 1-7
- Has anyone ever threatened to beat you up? Was it someone you knew? What did you do? How was the situation resolved? (p. 1-5)
- What does Piddy learn about Yaqui Delgado from Darlene? Why doesn’t Yaqui Delgado like Piddy? (p. 2-3)
- Where does Piddy think the ‘ass shaking’ started? Who is Lila? (p. 3)
- What’s the cafeteria like at Piddy’s school? How have the students divided themselves up? What is your cafeteria like? How does it compare to Piddy’s? (p.4- 5)
- Why doesn’t Darlene think that Piddy is Latina? What kind of stereotypes about Latinas does this reveal? What about the Latinas—do they seem to think Piddy is Latina? Explain your answer. Where are Piddy’s parents from? Is Piddy Latina? (p. 6-7)
Chapter 2 | Pages 8-20
- Why does Ma decide to move to the new apartment? (p. 8-12)
- Compare and contrast Ma and Lila. How are they different based on Piddy’s descriptions? (p. 12-13)
- Who is Mitzi? Describe her. (p. 15-16)
- What does Piddy want to do when she’s done with school? (p. 17-18)
Chapter 3 | Pages 21-26
- Why do you think Piddy feels ‘lost and jumbled’ when looking at old photos? (p. 23-24)
- What does Mitzi suggest as the reason for Yaqui’s dislike of Piddy? What is her advice to Piddy about the Yaqui situation? (p. 25-26)
Chapter 4 | Pages 27-35
- What’s the difference between Mitzi’s new school and Piddy’s? (p. 27) What does this say about the culture of Piddy’s school?
- How does Piddy find out who Yaqui Delgado is? (p. 28-29,32-33)
- Why can’t Piddy present her project even though she’s prepared? What has her preoccupied? Who steps in to save her? (p. 34-35)
Chapter 5 | Pages 36-39
- How did the rumor about Alfredo start? Was Piddy flirting with him? Do you think this is typical of rumors? Are they often not true? (p. 36-37)
- How would you answer the last question that the chapter ends with: “Who is to blame for my social failure?” Do you think there is anyone to blame? (p. 39)
Chapter 6 | Pages 40-42
- What new game does Piddy learn in the lunch room? Have you ever seen anything like this at your school? Have you been the victim or the bully? Who does the lunch aide treat as the guilty ones? Do you think the school personnel deal with it appropriately? What would you have done in this situation? (p. 40-41)
- Re-read the following from Piddy: “we’re easy targets. Weak. Weakness means that you deserve to be hated, that you deserve everything you get.” Do you think this is true? Do you think this is a typical belief in schools? Have you ever experienced this, either as a person considered weak or as a person bullying someone who was thought to be weak? What could we do to change this belief? (p. 42)
Chapter 7 | Pages 43-50
- Why do you think that Piddy walks back to her old apartment after the day she had? (p. 43)
- Why is Joey so good at predicting disaster? Do you know anyone like Joey? (p. 44-45)
- What does Lila do to make Piddy feel better? Do you think she suspects that something is wrong? Explain.
Chapter 8 | Pages 51-58
- What did Ma hope to be when she was younger? What happened? Why won’t she talk about it now? Make an inference: what does this tell us about her relationship with Piddy’s father? (p. 51)
- What happens when Piddy and Ma walk past the school? Who does Ma point out? (p. 55-57)
- What does Ma see when she looks at students like Yaqui Delgado? What does Piddy see? Why do you think their views are so different? (p. 56)
- Do you think that Piddy is correct in characterizing Ma as a bully like Yaqui? Explain. (p. 57)
- What would you do if you were Piddy? Would you tell Ma? Do you think that would help or make things worse? (p. 58)
Chapter 9 | Pages 59-68
- Where does Piddy work on the weekends? (p. 59)
- Describe the environment at Salón Corazón. What is Gloria’s one rule? What role does a place like Salón Corazón play in the community? Is it just a hair salon? Is there a place like this in your neighborhood or community? (p. 59-61)
- What does Piddy overhear at the salon about her father? (p. 64) What does she learn about her mother and father when she questions Lila later? (p. 66-68)
Chapter 10 | Pages 69-73
- What is one of Piddy’s best birthday memories? Do you have a favorite birthday memory? What is it? (p. 69)
- How is the stress of worrying about Yaqui Delgado effecting Piddy and her school work? (p. 70) Have you ever had something effect you like that? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from the situation?
- What happens to Piddy in the hall way? Do things like this happen at your school?
- Why do you think Darlene doesn’t want Piddy to tell or claim that she is a witness? Do you think telling would help in this situation? (p. 72-73)
Chapter 11 | Pages 74-79
- What does Darlene get for Piddy? Where does Yaqui live? (p. 74-75)
- Piddy says “I don’t feel anything like the kid Ms. Shepherd hoped for a few weeks ago” (p. 77). Do you think Piddy has really changed? Is she no longer a ‘good’ student?
Chapter 12 | Pages 80-88
- What does Piddy’s progress report look like? What does Piddy mean when she says that Daniel Jones is a hard school? Is it hard academically? (p. 80-81)
- Describe what happens when Piddy and Ma argue. Does Piddy really want to argue with Ma? What is she looking for in starting the argument? Have you ever done something similar? (p. 82-83)
- What has Joey done for the cat and her kittens? What might this say about Joey’s character? Are people always what they appear to be? (p. 87-88)
Chapter 13 | Pages 89-95
- Even though Piddy is sick, she’s still relieved. What doesn’t she have to deal with if she doesn’t go to school? Often adults, teachers, and school faculty say that students are at school to learn. But, many times, school means students have to deal with far more than just learning. Lots of things that happen at school can cause more stress than classes or homework. What do you think? What takes up most of your time and energy at school—academics or social situations (good and bad)? What do you think would make school a more healthy and productive place to be? (p. 90)
- What does Lila find on Piddy’s neck? How does she handle the situation? (p. 92-93)
- Lila tells Piddy that Ma is worried about her. Do you think Ma should be worried? (p. 93-94)
- What happens at school while Piddy is home sick? (p. 95)
Chapter 14 | Pages 96-104
- Which would you rather have—Piddy’s overprotective parents or Yaqui’s parents who don’t show up when she’s arrested? Explain. (p. 97) We don’t know much about Yaqui’s home situation, but we can try to make inferences and see if the rest of the story tells us more. What do you think Yaqui’s home life is like? Do you think she’s close to her parents? Does she have someone like Lila?
- What’s written on Rob’s locker? Why do you think Piddy decides to cover it up? Why would that be hurtful to Rob? (p. 98)
- What happens to Piddy as a result of trying to cover up the word on Rob’s locker? (p. 99-103)
- How would you describe Mr. Flatwell? Do you think he handles the situation with Piddy well? (p. 101-104)
- Do you agree with Piddy that if she tells Mr. Flatwell what’s going on it will make the situation even worse? (p. 101)
Chapter 15 | Pages 105-115
- What does Ma do to make sure Lila’s party goes well? (107)
- Who does Piddy get to sign her detention form? (p. 108)
- Do you think Beba is talking about Joey when she tells Piddy that everyone makes mistakes? Who could she be referring to? (p. 112)
- What does Piddy see Ma doing that surprises her? Why do you think Ma is hiding in the kitchen if she used to be friends with the ladies at the party? (p. 113)
Chapter 16 | Pages 116-123
- What does Mr. Flatwell pick up on between Piddy and Yaqui? How does he deal with it? (p. 119)
- Piddy imagines all the different ways that she could have dealt with Yaqui’s threat the day Vanessa talked to her. Do you think any of these would have helped? What might have happened if she had chosen a different way of dealing with the threat? (p. 120)
- What kind of monster do you think Piddy writes about in her extra credit English essay? (p. 121)
- When Piddy leaves detention she realizes she’s in a vulnerable situation. What could happen to her on the way home? How could she have dealt with this? Have you ever been in a situation where you were scared for your safety? (p. 123)
Chapter 17 | Pages 124-132
- How is Piddy’s and Mitzi’s friendship changing? How does Piddy feel about this? (p. 125)
- What does Ma think about Raúl? What does Piddy think? (p. 128)
- What emotion keeps coming up as Piddy thinks about Raúl? She talks about it in relation to the Glock he carries, and what it would be like growing up with brothers and a father. Why do you think Piddy is so focused on this particular feeling? (p. 128, 130)
Chapter 18 | Pages 133-140
- What has Ms. Shepherd done with Piddy’s essay? Why does this upset Piddy? Do you think that Ms. Shepherd could have handled the situation in a better manner? How? How could Piddy have responded differently? (p. 135-136)
- How is the stress over Yaqui affecting the way Piddy treats Darlene and Rob? (p. 138-139)
Chapter 19 | Pages 141-145
- Why does Piddy have to help Darlene with her homework? (p. 141-142)
- What school does Darlene suggest that Piddy apply to? (p. 144)
Chapter 20 | Pages 146-152
- Who is waiting for Piddy at Salón Corazón? (p. 146)
- What message does Vanessa relay to Piddy? What does it explain about why Yaqui doesn’t like Piddy? (p. 148-149)
- Does Piddy meet Yaqui at Bowne Park? Make a prediction: what do you think will happen as a result of Yaqui’s decision? (p. 150)
- What does Piddy do to change her appearance? Why do you think she does this? (p. 152)
Chapter 21 | Pages 153-159
- How does it go when Piddy finds Mitzi at the basketball court? Why do you think their interaction is awkward? Why do you think Piddy reacts the way she does? What do you think she’s feeling? (p. 155-157)
- How does Piddy’s visit end? Why do you think the two best friends are having such a hard time communicating? (p. 158-159)
Chapter 22 | Pages 160-167
- What happens to Piddy on Friday afternoon? (p. 160-162)
- Why do you think Ms. Boika refuses to help? Do you think that’s an acceptable response from an adult? (p. 161)
- Who does Piddy call after the attack? What does this say about her relationship with Lila? (p. 162-163)
- Why doesn’t Piddy want to tell Ma? What do you think of this decision? Is there any way to deal with the situation without consequences for Piddy? (p. 164-165)
Chapter 23 | Pages 168- 172
- What do you think Piddy means when she says “Piddy’s dead”? (p. 168) Do you agree? Explain. (p. 168)
- What does Darlene show Piddy? (p. 171-172)
Chapter 24 | Pages 173-179
- How does Piddy feel about returning to DJ? How would you feel? (p. 173-174)
- What does Piddy realize when Joey asks about her face? What did she do in the past when she saw Joey or his mother bruised and beaten up? (p. 175)
- Why do you think Piddy is comforted by Joey’s company? (p. 175-179)
Chapter 25 | Pages 180-185
- Where do Piddy and Joey go for the day? What do they do while there? (p. 180)
- What does Joey do with the message from DJ? Do you think this is a long term solution for Piddy’s problem? (p. 182-183)
- Re-read Joey’s reaction to seeing all of Piddy’s bruises. Do you think he is repulsed or does his reaction imply a different emotion? Explain. (p. 184-185)
Chapter 26 | Pages 186-194
- How does Piddy get Darlene to mark her excused? (p. 186)
- Where does Piddy go for the day? What happens when she sees Mitzi? Why doesn’t she talk to her? (p. 186-187)
- What does Piddy learn from Lila about Joey’s family? (p. 189)
- How does Piddy finally get caught from skipping school? (p. 191-192)
- What happens when Ma confronts Piddy about skipping school? (p. 192-194)
Chapter 27 | Pages 194-198
- Where does Piddy go after her fight with Ma? (p. 195)
- Who brings Piddy home? (p. 198)
Chapter 28 | Pages 199-203
- What does Piddy learn about her father? (p. 199-203)
- How do you think this experience has shaped Ma, the person she is and the kind of mother she is to Piddy? Explain. (p. 199-203)
Chapter 29 | Pages 204-207
- What has happened at the Halper’s apartment? (p. 204-206)
- Re-read the following that Piddy says about Mrs. Halper: “Nothing is happening. I’m sorry for this fuss. . .Why didn’t she just tell the truth?” (p. 207). What is ironic about this? Think about how Piddy has dealt with her problem with Yaqui.
Chapter 30 | Pages 208-210
- Do you think Joey is ever going to return home? Explain. (p. 208-209)
- What do Lila and Piddy rescue from the basement? (p. 210)
Chapter 31 | Pages 211-214
- What is Thanksgiving like at Piddy’s house this year? What does Lila bring? (p. 211-214)
Chapter 32 | Pages 215-220
- What adult is Piddy finally honest with about what’s happening at DJ? (p. 217-218)
- What is Lila’s advice? (p. 218-219)
- How does Lila explain Yaqui’s dislike for Piddy? Do you think she’s right? Explain. (p. 220)
Chapter 33 | Pages 221-227
- What is Joey’s plan? What does he want Piddy to do? (p. 222-224) Make a prediction: What do you think Piddy will do?
- What does Piddy give to Joey? (p. 226)
- Why can’t Piddy go with Joey? What does she realize that this would mean? (p. 226)
Chapter 34 | Pages 228-237
- What is Piddy’s first day back like? (p. 229-233)
- How do Rob and Piddy interact in English class? (p. 230-232)
- What do Mr. Flatwell and Miss Castenado talk to Piddy about? (p. 234-237)
- What makes Piddy decide to tell Mr. Flatwell and Miss Castenado about the bullying? (p. 236-237)
Chapter 35 | Pages 238-240
- How does Yaqui react to Piddy when she sees her in the office? (p. 238-239)
- Do you think Piddy’s fears of what Yaqui will do to her later are likely to happen? (p. 239-240)
Chapter 36 | Pages 241-244
- Do you think that Piddy is safe from Yaqui? Would you feel safe? (p. 241-242)
- Where does Piddy go after school? What does this say about the importance of her relationship with Mitzi? (p. 243-244)
Chapter 37 | Pages 244-248
- How does Piddy tell Ma all that has happened? What is Ma’s reaction? (p. 246-248)
Chapter 38 | Pages 249-254
- How does Lila attempt to hold Mr. Flatwell accountable for the things that happened at DJ? Do you think her questions are appropriate? Is there a need to critique the way the school administration and faculty handled the situation? (p. 250-252)
- What is the difficulty in the situation with Yaqui? Can they guarantee Piddy’s safety? (p. 252-253)
- What solution do they decide on? Do you think this is best? (p. 254)
Chapter 39 | Pages 255-260
- How has Piddy’s experience at DJ changed her, even once she’s back at her old school? (p. 255-256)
- What good news does Ma bring to Piddy at Salón Corazón? (p. 257)
- What is significant about Ma taking a day off? Do you think that this is the first of some important changes for Ma? Explain. (p. 257)
Reflective Writing Questions:
- How do you think Ma’s and Piddy’s relationship changes throughout the story?
- Compare and contrast Piddy and her mother. Describe the ways in which they misunderstand each other throughout the novel. By the end do you think they know each other better? Explain.
- What role do the older women play in the novel (Ma, Lila, Gloria, the other women at Salón Corazón)? Explain their significance and why they are an important part of Piddy’s life
- Are any of the school faculty particularly helpful to Piddy? What could they have done differently? What responsibility do you think school faculty have in dealing with bullying?
- Yaqui Delgado is a bully, and there are no excuses for that. Bullying is always wrong. But, sometimes, those who bully have had difficult experiences, and they’ve made the wrong choices for how deal with those experiences. What do you think we would learn if we heard Yaqui Delgado’s side of the story? What do you think Yaqui’s life has been like? What, if anything, could have been done to resolve the situation so that Yaqui didn’t end up charged with a crime and Piddy didn’t have to switch schools?
- The system failed Piddy, but it also failed Yaqui Delgado. What do you think happened to Yaqui? Do you think anything could have been done to change the lifestyle that Yaqui chose?
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
Written by staff at the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII), Vamos a Leer Educators Guides provide an excellent way to teach about Latin America through literacy. Each guide is based upon a book featured in the Vamos a Leer book group. For more materials that support teaching about Latin America in the classroom, visit the LAII website. This guide was prepared 8/2014 by Katrina Dillon, LAII Project Assistant.