Different: A Story of the Spanish Civil War

­Eerdmans. Nov. 2022. 88p. tr. from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel . Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802855985.
Gr 4-6–In alternating first-person sections, siblings Paco and Socorro render the homefront events and touchstone moments of the Spanish Civil War. Their father is a Republican who has fled Spain, and both children are aware of the politics and the impact on their family; Socorro sings the propaganda songs of the Falange party to convince her mother to take her out of one school, and in another, Paco lies to his French teacher about his papa’s work. Paco is always famished and burdened by his new role as man of the family, and Socorro is never hungry, in deep grief over what her family and the world is facing. Eight years later, the family joins their father in Venezuela and begins a new life. Luminous illustrations make wartime events appear like well-choreographed ballet, in soft colors, with iridescent linework creating domestic tableaux. Fully one-third of the book is given over to the publisher’s note, end notes, glossary, and further reading; young readers will need to acquaint themselves with the details of the Spanish Civil War before entering the fictions of this tale. While compelling and poetically told, the work exists as two sections: the plight of the siblings, where readers don’t know much more than the children do, and the daunting historical back matter.
VERDICT This solid, well-rounded work on an important era in Spain’s history will need some book-talking, but it admirably invites readers into an ordinary household to show the how small and large events take a toll on the lives of children.

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