Isla to Island

S. & S./Atheneum. Mar. 2022. 192p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781534469242; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781534469235.
Gr 5 Up–In 1961 Cuba, revolution and violence convince Marisol’s parents to make the difficult decision to send their daughter to safety in the United States. Though this wordless graphic novel begins in full, tropical color, when Marisol lands in New York, the only color is in the red flower her father tucked behind her ear; the people and setting are in grayscale, and the speech bubbles are empty or filled with scribbles, representing the English that Marisol cannot yet understand. The two older adults who take Marisol in are kind, but she cannot communicate with them; the first comfort Marisol finds is in a school library book about trees. Her hosts take her to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where plants in the greenhouse are rendered in vibrant color. As winter thaws into spring, Marisol’s life gains color through library books, plants, and food. Her hosts cook with her (from a Cuban cookbook from the school librarian), build her bookshelves, and buy plants for her room. When she enters seventh grade the following fall, Marisol’s world is fully in color, and she has the courage to speak to her classmates in English. Family photos serve as an epilogue; back matter includes a recipe, a list of further reading, and a note about Operation Peter Pan, the 1960–62 exodus of young Cubans (when Fidel Castro took power, many parents, terrified that their children would be taken from them, sent their kids to the United States). Marisol and her family are Latinx; the older adults who take her in are white.
VERDICT This historical graphic novel is an inspiring, empathy-building story, accessible to all readers.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing