Rummanah Aasi

Description: In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed. She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams...and her stories.

Review: In this gorgeously illustrated memoir picture book, Morales recalls the time from her son's birth to their move to the United States from Mexico in the mid-1990s. In the foreign land mother and son encounter many barriers, which are common to the many obstacles immigrants face while trying to survive in a new country that doesn't readily welcome non-English-speaking people of color. The pair encounters respite at the public library where, with the help of librarians, they find a home in the children's section.
  The text is sparse though poetic and dreamlike. The artwork, in my opinion, speaks louder by capturing the wonder of childhood, learning, and discovery through books; however together the text and the magical art beautifully come together to celebrate literacy, language, and Mexican culture.   . Morales explains in an author's note that she and her son are not "Dreamers" in the modern sense-"young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children"-but dreamers in the sense of all immigrants who come to a new country. Also appended are a thorough list of the books referenced in the artwork and a fascinating note on how Morales created her artwork. I read this picture book twice, once for the lyrical text and then a second closer reading taking in the artwork. I think this is a very strong contender for Caldecott award this year.

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for K and up.

If you like this book try: The Journey by Francesca Sanna, Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera

Description: Every kid in Lola's school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places. So when Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family's story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela's words: “Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you.”

Review: When Ms. Obi asks her diverse group of students to draw a picture of the country they are originally from, the children are excited except for Lola. Lola is adrift and does not know much about where she came from as she left the island as a child. As Lola talks to some of her neighbors from the Island to draw from their memories, she learns of bats as big as blankets, a place where people loved music and dancing, and amazing fruits. With all of these great things, Lola wonders, why did people leave? Reluctantly, Mr. Mir, the building superintendent, tells her of a Monster that fell upon their Island and did as he pleased for 30 years.
   The text is a bit heavy for a picture book, but it delightful to read. Lola's wonder and the author's humor shines. Though never mentioned by name, the country in question is the Dominican Republic, where Diaz was born. The Monster refers to the dictator Rafael LeĆ³nidas Trujillo. Lola learns from her assignment that "Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you." Espinosa's engaging vibrant mixed-media illustrations portray a thriving community living under the shadow of a metropolitan city. I enjoyed watching how Lola learns more about her Island, the illustrations cleverly incorporate a plethora of tropical plants and color, bringing to life both Lola's neighborhood and La Isla. A great picture book highlighting and celebrating diversity and identity.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for K-3.

If you like this book try: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
2 Responses
  1. I like both of these, especially since they provide another side to the story, and I am so glad these authors are using their voices to show that immigrants are valued people. I hate all the ugliness in our country right now surrounding immigrants, it makes me so sad.

  2. These both sound good and from the cover art, I'll bet they are pleasing to look at.

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails