A realistic portrayal of a family torn apart.
Ten-year-old Maricela’s mama picks her up from school on the day everything changes. She tells Maricela and her younger brother that their “papi won’t be coming home for a while.” Readers learn through simple prose that Maricela’s undocumented father is being held in a detention center while he awaits deportation to an unnamed but “dangerous” country. Every aspect of Maricela’s young life is affected, from her now-coachless soccer practice to her after-school routine. She narrates the story with a sense of grief and honesty true to a child’s understanding of a complicated and devastating situation. Cornelison’s soft, impressionistic illustrations depict the all-Latinx family with light brown skin and straight, black hair and convey the overwhelming loss and sadness felt by a child longing for an absent parent. The unsmiling characters in the story feel authentic to the heaviness of this experience. Despite their separation, Maricela focuses on ways she can stay connected to her papi, through handwritten notes and especially looking up at their same mango moon. Author de Anda honors the real challenge that many children face when a parent is deported and reminds them that it’s “all right…to cry.”
Available in both Spanish and English, this story validates a heartbreaking experience. (Picture book. 7-10)