Luca and his family self-deport to Mexico after receiving a letter.
Because neither Luca’s mother nor his father has “papers,” they can no longer live in the United States even though the boy and his brother, Paco, are U.S. citizens. Saddened, they cross the border and drive to Grandma’s house. Luca, who speaks no Spanish, finds solace in his trumpet. When he falls asleep, he dreams he crosses a bridge of music back over the border. After visiting his old home, he flies to his school and plays a song for his friends who have gathered to greet him. The experience makes him so happy he wakes up laughing, and his entire family joins in as sadness flies out the window. Their laughter builds a bridge of hope to the home they were forced to abandon. Llanos’ bilingual snapshot of American children trapped by complicated immigration policies meanders in a disjointed journey across the southern border. The abrupt, naïve ending implies that because Luca can visit his friends and home in his dreams, all is well, and he and his family are no longer depressed. López Real’s manga-inflected illustrations are heavily symbolic, but sometimes they inexplicably diverge from the narrative. Where a bridge is mentioned, there is only a dilapidated fence; where a hill is described, there is a flat valley. In addition, details unnecessarily change from scene to scene. A Spanish version of the text, also written by Llanos, runs alongside the English.
Despite flaws, this book can serve as a springboard for discussion of this timely and sensitive issue. (author’s note) (Bilingual picture book. 5-10)