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THE CIRCUIT GRAPHIC NOVEL by Francisco Jiménez Kirkus Star


by Francisco Jiménez ; adapted by Andrew J. Rostan ; illustrated by Celia Jacobs

Pub Date: March 26th, 2024
ISBN: 9780358348214
Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

A young Mexican immigrant tells the story of his family and the lives of other migrant farm workers in this graphic novel adaptation of a classic 1997 memoir that won multiple awards.

Panchito, whose family left the Guadalajara area and crossed la frontera in the late 1940s, is growing up with his parents and five siblings. As the seasons pass, they move around California—Selma, Visalia, Bakersfield, Corcoran, and Santa Maria, among other places—finding work picking different crops. Panchito’s story unfolds in chronologically arranged, self-contained short stories, and readers follow the family through their circuit, from picking cotton and strawberries to topping carrots and thinning lettuce. They experience significant sorrows, such as when baby Torito ends up near death due to a lack of health care. The narrative doesn’t dwell on these moments, instead sharing the truth of hardship: that even where there’s sadness, there’s also joy to be found. Panchito’s time with older brother Roberto, the advice he receives from his mamá, and little moments with his friends allow readers to experience life’s simple pleasures alongside the family’s struggles. The exquisite illustrations are warm and weathered, perfectly complementing the emotional storytelling and evoking the mid-20th-century setting. Each person introduced serves a purpose, adding greater insights into Panchito’s life, and carefully relayed sensory details and seamlessly integrated Spanish words pull readers into the setting. The touching author’s note helps frame the memoir and its significance.

A poignant, beautiful story of family, endurance, and appreciation.

(glossary) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)