My Shoes and I/Mis zapatos y yo: Crossing Three Borders/Cruzando tres fronteras

illus. by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. 32p. Piñata. May 2019. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781558858848.
Gr 2–5—Wearing the new shoes his mother has sent, a young boy and his father embark on a difficult journey across three countries to reach her in the United States. The story is based on the author's own experience of leaving El Salvador and going across Guatemala and Mexico with his father in 1985. Wearing his new shoes, young René leaves his home and friends on a windy day. In Guatemala he is chased by hungry dogs, and in Mexico City Papá loses his wallet. They take buses, walk for miles, sleep in a dilapidated trailer, climb mountains, and finally swim across a river. Meanwhile, his shoes get dusty, soaked, muddy, and develop round, horrible holes in the soles. Finally, when they come out of the river, Mamá is there waiting for them and his shoes are with him. Together, they cross the border. Vanden Broeck's color saturated, textured illustrations capture the long and arduous journey in all its harshness and reality. First published in 2010, this new edition comes in bilingual format. The Spanish translation reads as well as its English counterpart. Pair this book with Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta.
VERDICT Sadly, this topic continues to be as heartbreaking and important today as when the author first undertook his trip 34 years ago. A must-read.

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