Becoming Naomi Leon - A Book Review Example

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University of Richmond
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Everyone keeps telling us about the immense power of positive thinking. Some of us believe it too. And that is definitely an incredible thing to do. In this book, Naomis grandmother is a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and wants to make sure that her granddaughter, Naomi is on the same side. At one moment, things are quiet and happy for Naomi and her brother, Owen as they stay with their grandmother. Until all hell breaks loose and a mysterious figure reappears from nowhere after seven years of absence. Maybe, just maybe, positive thinking will be sufficient to save them all from the chaos that has risen. Will Naomi become who she thinks she was meant to be?

This is a story dedicated to children, to help them understand that no matter what background they come from, they have the power to live beyond the setbacks. Like Naomi, one can transform themselves from being a worrier to shining in whatever field they are destined for. That we should trust the process of change, and let it mold us into what we are purposed to be. The story also teaches the importance of family, and the importance of finding our roots and using that as a means to find our purpose and accomplishing it.

Questions with model answers


What things are Naomi good at and why?

Naomi is good at soap-carving, collecting words and making lists.

These are the reasons why: in the book, she makes lists all the time, and especially about the things she loves doing. She has listed about carving soaps and words that she comes across that fascinate her. When they travel to Mexico, Naomi also participates in a soap carving competition.

Why are lists important to Naomi.

They help her to remember things to do and are her way of documenting memories.


Would you label Naomis mother, Skyla as good? Why?


-Skyla is an alcoholic. She drinks alcohol while in the hospital for Owens appointment and Naomi has found alcohol with her severally, as when she found a bottle on her seat at Thanksgiving.

-She is violent towards Naomi and slaps her

-She is not affectionate towards Owen because of his disability.

-Even after not seeing her children for close to seven years, she doesnt try to bond with them but instead says that she had come only to seek a babysitter for her other child.

-she fails to attend the teacher conference at school, even after promising that she would.

2. What actions in the story show that Naomis grandmother is loving?

-Despite the children having both parents alive, Gram lives with them and does not subject them to the troubles of their parents separation.

-she helps look for Naomis father so that he can take up custody of the children and not suffer under their mothers care.

-she lets Owen tape his shirt, even though he looks funny that way, just because it would make the boy happy.


At the beginning of the book, Naomi hardly speaks out loud. Her brother Owen, tapes himself to feel safer. What are some of the things you do to feel secure? Are they effective for you?

Sample answer: My parents often work late and are rarely at home when its dark. Our housekeeper, Miss Grace, is a very nice lady who takes good care of us in her absence-she cooks, does our laundry, helps us with homework and even lets us watch our favorite shows after we have completed our duties. Miss Grace is, however, an elderly lady. We celebrated her 56th birthday last summer. As soon as weve had our dinner, she soon falls asleep on the couch. Sometimes I fear that thugs will attack our house and feel very insecure. I usually lead my smaller sister to our home library and pull out hero stories to read. Mostly comic books. As we read a particular story, I will often dramatize it for her. Sometimes we wear costumes. As soon as the story is over and the hero (I) has defeated the bad people, I feel like I can protect both Miss Grace and Joy, my small sister from anything. Most times we fall asleep on the library couch, or Miss Grace will come get us and tuck us in. I love the nights that she lets me sleep in my costume.

I think my story-reading and costume-wearing method is partially effective. On some days, I feel very safe and secure. On those days I am sure I can protect all of us from anything. However, on other days, the method doesnt seem to work as I want it to. On those days, I really want Miss Grace to cuddle with me until I fall asleep. Or I choose to wait up for my dad, as he reads stories perfectly and makes me feel very strong and capable.


What is the significance of the title, Becoming Naomi Leon to Naomis character?

Throughout the book, Naomis character changes as events unfold. At the beginning, she is a worrier. She even keeps lists of things she is worried about, which include her mothers feelings about her. Naomi is confused on whether her mother will get married, whether she likes her, or whether her mother will have friends. She is also worried about her friendship with Blanca. When Blanca comments that she thinks Skyla is not a good mother, Naomi is not sure if she still wants them to remain friends. Naomi then becomes angry at her mothers actions. She does not approve of Skylas alcoholism, her absenteeism at the teacher conference, the way she tugs at her hair when braiding, and the threat of not getting presents if they do not do as she says. Naomi also thinks that Skyla is buying love from other people through presents, so that they can approve her marriage to Clive.

When they get to Mexico, Naomi learns of her familys heritage. She is told that her fathers lineage has been carving soaps for a hundred years, and that is where she probably gets the talent from. She also learned that her surname and family name-Leon means lion. She participates in the festival at Mexico and does really well. Soon after, she is happy and peaceful again and is living up to her name- Naomi the lion (lioness).

In my opinion, the title of the book portrays the journey that Naomi Leon undertakes through her familys drama, to become who she was always meant to be, thanks to her name-Leon. She had to let go of the worries and fears and travel all the way to her heritage in Mexico so as to discover her origin and who she really is, and become that.


How effective was Naomis grandmother in dealing with the recent family events? What reasons support your judgment?

I think that Naomis gram handled the family situation almost perfectly. When Skyla showed up, she was accepting and let her stay with them for the days that she was visiting. She also allowed Skyla to interact with the children through taking them for hospital appointments, inviting her for teacher conferences at school, and allowing her to buy presents for the children. However, as soon as Skyla started to abuse her privileges-through missing appointments and drinking alcohol, Gram quickly withdrew them.

When she learned of Skylas attempt to take Naomi and use her as a babysitter for her step-sister, she makes a decision to take the children to Mexico in search of their father, who would take custody of them. She travels with them, and never leaves their side until they find their father-Santiago Leon.

Gram can be described as a good role model. She protects the children from the drama that unfolds around the separation of parents, by taking them under her care. She ensures that they dont lack anything. For instance, when Naomis and Owens school uniforms are small for them, she makes them new ones for them. She nurtures Naomis soap-carving skills and talents as if she understands that it is a talent that she inherited from her father. She comforts the worries of the children, as when she allows Owen to tape himself, even if he looks funny that way. She also does not make Owen feel bad for his physical disability and treats him as equally as Naomi. She also properly manages the money that is sent to her by Santiago (Naomis father) and as far as we know, the children never lack anything.

Her decision to ensure that the childrens custody is with their father is wise. Santiago is quite responsible as he sends them money regularly so that the children never lack anything. His reason for absence is also quite valid, as he has to work in Mexico since that is the only place where carvings sell. On the other hand, Skyla is an alcoholic, is irresponsible and quite rude-she threatens to give the children the presents if Gram does not change her attitude. She also treats the children wrongly-she looks down on Owen for being disabled and wants to take Naomi as a babysitter for her other child. She also brings Clive to Thanksgiving and bribes everyone with presents so that they can approve her marriage to him. She, therefore, presents herself as manipulative, irresponsible and rude, and would not be a good fit to mother the children.


Write a bio-poem that centers on Naomi and her journey to becoming who she was meant to be.

Naomi, smart, happy and peaceful,

Faces a storm in form of her mothers appearance,

Naomi, worrying, anxious and angry

Gram organizes a trip to Mexico

Naomi, hopeful and optimistic.

Meeting with father and learning her heritage,

She now knows who she really is

Naomi, a happy and powerful lioness.

Literary Elements Questions

1. How does the figurative language of Becoming Naomi Leon influence the storys events?

Naomis grandmother had nicknamed the family Baby Beluga. Baby Beluga is a title of a nursery rhyme by Raffi. The song addresses a small white whale and encourages it to be happy in its current situation and not to worry, but to instead only occupy itself with being a child-playing, feeding and getting a good rest at the end of the day. The song is a message from Gram to Owen and Naomi, and encourages them not to worry about any troubles, as she would take care of them and protect them-their only responsibility was to be happy children.

Naomis last name-Leon is symbolic. It means Lion in Spanish. As soon as they travel to Mexico and that is explained to Naomi, she lets go of her worries. She is soon comfortable and even participates in the soap carving festival along with her father, as her family has done for close to a hundred years. She finally embraces her name and is happy.

Grams last name-Outlaw is also symbolic. She goes against all norms in a bid to take care of her grandchildren. Despite common trends, she does not leave the kids to go with their mom, Skyla, because she is aware of Skylas negative traits such as irresponsibility and drinking that would compromise the bringing up of the children. She instead takes the children to their father, who despite being absent, is a responsible and hardworking man, and would hence be a good parent for the children.

What ideals of adult behavior are presented in the book?

Through Grams character, we learn that adults should take care of children that are under their care by all means. They should not discriminate children because of their appearances-as Gram did not let Owen feel bad for being disabled. They should also protect those under their care from all forms of harm, as Gram protected Naomi and Owen from their mother. Adults should also make children feel protected and happy-as Gram allowed Owen to tape himself as it made him feel secure and happy. Even though he looked funny, Gram did not stop him.

Through Santiago Leons character, we learn that adults should be responsible for their childrens affairs-as is seen in the way Santiago regularly sent the childrens upkeep money to Gram. We also learn that adults should work hard to maintain and sustain their families legacies. Naomis father was diligent in being a good soap carver, in line with what his family had been for the preceding century.

Thanks to Skylas character, we learn w...

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