Travesía: A Migrant Girl’s Cross-Border Journey/El viaje de una joven migrante

Arsenal Pulp. Apr. 2021. 72p. pap. $17.95. ISBN 9781551528366.
Gr 6 Up–Photographer, documentary filmmaker, and educator Gerster shares the true account of a 15-year-old Mexican migrant, Gricelda, and her family’s terrifying experience crossing the border between Mexico and the United States. This short story straddles the line between picture book and graphic novel, leaning more toward the former; text and imagery are kept separate and somewhat simple, without traditional panels. In the few instances where some semblance of panels are used, they are bordered by a stitched thread, which begins to unravel when Gricelda and her family begin their border-crossing in earnest. The illustrations largely have a wood grain texture overlaid on them and draw upon a varied palette, ranging from a warm honey gold to a cool amethyst, with grays and earth tones in between. Despite the importance of the subject matter, the story’s brevity works against it, as much of the experience is shared without significant examination. Readers learn about the dangers from human coyotes, and the art depicts the treacherous wildlife and terrain of the desert, including actual coyotes, but it all happens quickly and is shared passively, reducing its impact. Much of the story is abruptly tied up via a text-only epilogue. The back matter includes an author reflection. Both English and Spanish language narration exists on each page.
VERDICT Though this narrative tells an important story of immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, it could have benefited from more exploration to fill the story out. An additional purchase.

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