A poignant, sincere, empathetic glimpse at family border separation.

JIMENA PÉREZ PUEDE VOLAR / JIMENA PÉREZ CAN FLY

Argueta tells the story of 10-year-old Jimena Pérez, who unexpectedly journeys from her home in El Salvador to the U.S.

Told in a sequence of short poems first in Spanish and consequently in English, this poignant story introduces Jimena’s home through her senses: “Me gusta / el color de las zanahorias…. / Pero más me gusta / el olor de los marañones”; “I like the color / of the carrots…. / But what I like most / is the smell of the cashew fruit.” When young boys from a neighborhood gang threaten Jimena’s schoolmate, Jimena’s parents, fearing for their own daughter, decide that Jimena and her mother will join family living in Texas. After exiting El Salvador and later Guatemala, Jimena and her mother climb atop a train—La Bestia, known for its ruthlessness and peril—and later trek by foot. Authorities find Jimena and her mama and pull them from each other. “I feel alone. / Other kids are crying. / We’re little birds / alone and sad / in a metal cage.” The harrowing tale ends in a detention cell for children, yet in this realistic hell, Jimena manages to find some small hope. It leaves Jimena scared and uncertain, and it won’t be a stretch for readers to understand that the questions they have about Jimena apply to far too many real-life children like her.

A poignant, sincere, empathetic glimpse at family border separation. (Verse fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55885-889-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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