The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness from the Border

Random House Studio. Jun. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593307052.
PreS-Gr 2–When their community is no longer safe and with more of their friends leaving, Noemi and her mother begin the journey to the border. Alone at first, they are soon joined by others hoping to cross into the United States. Noemi and her mother are worried to find that they must wait until their number is called before they can try to receive permission to cross—a number that is recorded in a notebook by the notebook keeper, Belinda. As days turn to weeks and Noemi sees the difficulties people around her are also facing, she is inspired by Belinda’s kindness and begins to spread that kindness with her actions. When Belinda’s own number is called, she chooses Noemi and her mother to continue the work as notebook keepers. The color pencil and gouache illustrations depict the many families that have made the journey for a better life and their life in the camp, while also showing readers the worry and fears etched into the faces of Noemi, her mother, and those around them. The short sentences and soft narration, from Noemi’s point of view, are sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases and convey her worries as well as her determination to be a source of encouragement for others as they wait their turns.
VERDICT A unique perspective on the difficulties facing families who wait at the border that makes abstract occurrences relatable and realistic, this picture book’s young narrator spreads a message of hope and kindness.

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