One week, Reyna’s teachers inform her that there is going to be a schoolwide competition: every student will be writing their own books, and teachers will select the best ones to be one of three lucky winners. Reyna is excited to finally have the chance to make Papi proud. Though Reyna was a proficient reader in Mexico, she is behind in her reading here. Nevertheless, she decides to enter the competition, and writes as her book the story of her birth. After she corrects her spelling and draws in pictures, Mrs. Anderson shows the class how to bind their books, and by week’s end, all the projects are done.
Reyna, desperate for a way to impress Papi and prove her worth once and for all, decides to throw her heart and soul into the bookmaking contests. Little does she know that writing will become something she comes to love just for herself—not because it is a way to impress others or win favor.
While Mrs. Anderson judges the books, she puts on a movie for the class, but Reyna can’t focus—she watches closely as Mrs. Anderson reads all the books, and is heartbroken when she sees her book go into a large pile—the pile she knows is full of the reject books. Reyna is overcome with sadness, and then fear that Papi will be disappointed in her. One day, she promises herself, she will write a book that won’t be rejected—a book that will make her father proud.
Reyna’s childhood dream of writing a book that will make her father proud will, of course, come true over the course of her life. This passage shows how Reyna’s lifelong love of writing grew out of an impulse to please—but grew into so much more.