A Christmas fairy tale set at the border wall.
María and Juan get on a border-bound bus with their mother. They haven’t seen Abuela in five years. Both children have made gifts: a knitted scarf from María and a drawing of Mary and Joseph on cardboard from Juan. Arriving at the annual Posada Sin Fronteras event (the Inn Without Borders), the children must wait their turn in order to have 30 minutes with Abuela. Touching pinkies through a metal grid, they exchange love and family news. When it’s time to say their goodbyes, María starts feeding the scarf through the small holes in the fence. A border patrol officer intercepts and takes the scarf. “We can’t let anything through the fence.” Orchestrating the requisite Christmas “miracle” to convey howling Juan’s gift to his grandmother occupies about half the book and veers into fantasy. The sister transforms her brother’s artwork into a kite with the knitting needles MacGyver-ed into spine and cross spar. With the unlikely encouragement of the officers, María successfully flies the kite over both the primary and secondary border fences/walls—which is against the law. To the triumphant shouts of the crowd on both sides of the border, Abuela gets her happy ending. Perkins’ fictionalized account of the actual annual gatherings at San Diego’s Friendship Park paired with Palacios’ chirpy illustrations inadvertently belie the heartbreak and human suffering played out every year.
What’s “between us and Abuela”? The same thing that’s between the U.S. and Mexico—an 18-to-30–foot-high double fence. (Picture book. 5-8)