Seven boys share a name but lead very different lives across the Americas in Luján and Carrer’s pensive picture book.
In Chile, 8-year-old Pablo’s father drills the rock deep down in the cold copper mines. His father returns home weary from the labor, and Pablo makes sure he doesn’t disturb his father’s rest. Meanwhile, another Pablo lives deep in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador with his mother, a fruit picker. When traveling musicians visit his village, Pablo and his mother savor the music. But the musicians depart too soon, and both mother and son cry out, “Don’t forget us!” The vignette ends, and readers move on to the next. Small peeks into the lives of these seven Pablos—including a Guyanese boy living in cramped quarters in New York and an Argentine boy finding refuge in Mexico from a military dictatorship—offer a quick, harrowing survey of a world of uncertainty, strife, and hope. Via Lethem's translation, Luján delineates these candid snapshots with care and respect, even if they are necessarily underdeveloped and unequipped to offer any relief. Likewise, Carrer’s graphite pictures depict indistinct people in fragmented landscapes amid bursts of yellow, giving them the feel of hazy dispatches from the margins. A gesture toward fellowship ends the narrative abruptly on a rosy note.
Some readers will be left with questions and not much else. Still, this is a necessary reminder of young lives often unseen. (Picture book. 4-8)