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HEAR MY VOICE / ESCUCHA MI VOZ by Warren Binford Kirkus Star


The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States

edited by Warren Binford

Pub Date: April 13th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-5235-1348-2
Publisher: Workman

In Spanish and in English, a devastating first-person account of children’s experiences in detention at the southern U.S. border.

The nightmare children have faced while separated from their families at the U.S.–Mexico border in recent years is detailed unsparingly via interview snippets from 61 migrant children ages 5 to 17. The words are interpreted by 17 different Latinx illustrators. While some of the artists build fantasy imagery, depicting the children as caged birds or representing escape from a dangerous country as flight from a terrifying monster, the most affecting double-page spreads simply detail the horrifying living conditions and allow expressions on faces to do the rest. Hunger, overcrowding, verbal abuse, and unsanitary conditions are only part of the horrors. “I have been here without bathing for twenty-one days,” one child says from behind chain-link fencing. “I wish I could get clean.” The Spanish-language version is bound dos-à-dos to the English one, and the children’s words are even more painful in their native language. Additional context on how the stories were captured and the legal issues around child detention is provided in a foreword and backmatter; it reinforces the impossible and cruel situation the migrant children have faced and their misplaced hope in a system that has failed them. It’s the kind of terrifying book that no adult should hand to a child before preparing to explain, with context, that the stories are true and that they must be remembered.

A powerful, critical document only made more heartbreaking in picture-book form.

(Picture book. 8-18)