A young boy must salvage recyclable material from a mountain of trash in order to earn money for his family.
Pablo and his older sister, Sofia, wake. They have a thin blanket and not much else. They must hurry to get to the dumpsite so they are in position to vie for the best treasures when the truck arrives. Everyone pushes, runs, and shoves. Pablo is meant to be looking for cans, glass, plastic, or paper, but he gets a small thrill when he unearths a book. He longs to be able to read it. Another unexpected treasure is found: two small carrots. Pablo and Sofia gulp them down. Poulin swiftly establishes the bleak, desperate setting. Gasses from the garbage irritate throats, shards of glass cut fingers and feet, and there is always a threat that loot may be stolen. Few clues are given, but the word “pepenadores” hints at Mexico. Suddenly, Pablo finds a true treasure: a gold chain. He and his sister dream of what they could buy; it’s nothing extravagant, simply a soccer ball or ice cream. This may shock young, privileged readers who take their toys for granted. Smudged illustrations, with only pale hints of color, brighten exponentially when Pablo and Sofia dream big.
Poverty is difficult to grasp if one is not living it; this story may help nurture empathetic future generations. (Picture book. 6-10)