Undocumented: A Worker's Fight

illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh. 26p. Abrams ComicArts. Aug. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781419728549.
OrangeReviewStarThe Pura Belpré winner tries his hand at a tale for adults and crafts a gorgeous, timely, and necessary offering about the daily plight of undocumented workers in the United States. Juan grew up in Mexico working in the fields but crosses the border before his 18th birthday with the help of his uncle. He's hired as a busboy at a restaurant where he eventually meets his wife, but he is severely underpaid and works long hours, seven days a week. Though he risks losing his job and being deported right before his wife gives birth to their first child, he joins his fellow undocumented workers in fighting for fair wages and conditions. The matter-of-fact, accessible narrative is sprinkled with Spanish and Spanglish, highlighting the obstacles undocumented immigrants face and their important contributions to our country's economy. The story is told via the ancient Mixtec codex—accordion-fold—format. Through striking mixed-media illustrations, Tonatiuh depicts Juan's exploitative white employer as a large skeleton, giving the tale a mythic but timeless feel. A thoughtful author's note discusses Tonatiuh's inspiration and includes bibliographic information, making this a good start for research or curricular tie-ins. And for libraries that might shy away from the accordion format, the volume comes in an elegant slipcase for easy shelving.
VERDICT A relevant and important title for all libraries.

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