Migrant: The Journey of a Mexican Worker by Jose Manuel Mateo, illustrated by Javier Martinez Pedro
In this bilingual book, a boy from Mexico talks about the changes in his family and his village as people leave Mexico to find work in the United States. The story begins with the boy speaking about his village and how it used to be as a farming community with small farms where he would play. But then things changed and soon the village was just women and children with all of the men gone to find work elsewhere. When his mother was unable to find work in the village and his father’s money stopped arriving, the had no choice but to leave too. The story changes to one of escape, hiding and running, one that mirrors that boy’s games as a small child, but they are no longer fun here. The family makes it safely to Los Angeles, but there are new barriers in the way with the new country.
Told in a unique vertical format that echoes the ancient codex, this book uses its format to great effect. First, it mirrors the sense of a journey across distances, across cultures. Just opening this book feel different and special and then the length of the single page captures that sense of travel and quest. The voice of the book is also exquisitely done. The boy looking back on his childhood, seeing the changes and then the contrast of his childhood with the frightening present is filled with a taut tension that never goes away.
Even as I gush about the writing, I can’t say enough about the art. Done in a single pane that continues through the entire vertical book, it shows the village, the train that allows their escape, and finally LA. The art has an ancient feel to it, filled with tiny details, many people, plants, houses, and more. It’s a tribute to the history of Mexico, the thousands of people who cross the border, and the beauty of their courage.
Unique and incredibly lovely, this book is one that won’t work in public libraries due to the format. But it’s one that is worth celebrating despite that limitation. Get this in special collections! Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from copy received from Abrams Books.
Pom and Pim by Lena and Olaf Landstrom
When Pom heads outside, the sun is shining and the day is beautiful. Pim, a stuffed toy, goes out too. But the day isn’t completely full of good luck, in fact Pom and Pim experience a lot of bad luck along the way. Somehow though, these bad moments turn into good ones. So when Pom falls down, there is money on the sidewalk and they get to have ice cream! The ice cream gives Pom a tummy ache, but then there is a balloon in the room. The balloon pops when Pom takes it outside, but it’s just in time to make a raincoat for Pim before the rain comes. Then it’s a lovely rainy day.
Landstrom plays with optimism in this book. Pom goes from merry to dejected in moments, just like any toddler, bouncing right back again with the next new distraction or change. The story is very simply told with the illustrations telling much of Pom’s reaction to the described situations. Pom is never given a gender, making this a book that will speak to all genders equally and children will see themselves reflected on the page.
The illustrations clearly reflect Pom’s emotions, as Pom changes moods from one page to the next. They are also wonderfully simple which fits into this story very nicely. The result is a book for toddlers that they will understand and relate to.
Grab this one when looking at emotions with toddlers, its everyday events will be something that any child has probably experienced. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has announced the winners of their 2014 Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Awards. Here are the winners:
Picture Book Text Winner: Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller
Picture Book Text Honor: Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Picture Book Illustration Winner: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
Picture Book Illustration Honor: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
Fiction Winner: Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Fiction Honor: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Nonfiction Winner: Call of the Klondike by David Meissner
Nonfiction Honor: The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela Turner
Sid Fleischman Humor Award: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg