A Journey Toward Hope

Six Foot Pr. Aug. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781644420089.
Gr 3-5–This picture book reimagines the journeys of four fictional children to the United States. It opens with ten-year-old Alessandra, a girl of Mayan heritage who only speaks Q’eqchi’, as she embarks on a dangerous journey to reunite with her mother in the U. S.The other children, of various ages, also make the trip on a boat, a truck, and a system of trains known as “the Beast,” traveling from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador until they arrive at the Nuevo Laredo camp in Mexico. Older elementary readers may reflect on the struggles that unaccompanied migrant children must endure to find a better life in the U.S. and reunite with their families. Guevara employs pastel colors and curved lines to give life to dreamlike, soft illustrations while supplementing the narrative. This imagery is reinforced by using allegories of a bird, a butterfly, a monkey, and a jaguar, a loving nod to Mesoamerican history and culture. The Spanish edition moves effortlessly, although at times this literal translation loses the natural expression used by native speakers. The small black-and-white type is placed in the corners of the pages to avoid concealing the art. This picture book could be used in a fourth-grade social studies unit covering the family migration crisis. The back matter contains a note from Baylor University, creator of the Global Hunger and Migration Project. Thoughts on how to get involved and notes from the illustrator are also included. The story does have one conflicting element: Alessandra is able to understand and verbally communicate with the other children, even though she does not speak Spanish.
VERDICT A candid rendition of the jarring reality lived by migrant children told in inviting language accessible to elementary students.

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