This morning’s featured book, José Manuel Mateo’s Migrant, illustrated by Javier Martínez Pedro, is actually one that was awarded the New Horizons Award at the 2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which was the year that I juried. It was originally released in Spanish in Mexico in 2011 as Migrar. It has been published here in the States this year, just released in April by Abrams Books for Young Readers — with text in Spanish on one side of the book and text in English on the other. This makes me happy to see. (The New Horizons Award provides special recognition for illustrators from Arab, Latin American, Asian, and African countries.)
The book was created in the style of a codex, or one continuous illustration, along with Mateo’s words, presented in an accordion fold. It works like this:
“I used to play among the roosters and the pigs,” the book opens. It’s told from the point of view of a young boy in Mexico, who lives in a village with “no pens, nor walls between the houses. On one side of the villages were the mountains; on the other side, the sea.”
The boy’s father works on land owned by someone else, and he and his sister have a happy life, running and play. But one day, money for planting dries up, and the boy’s neighbors leave. “In the end, my dad also left. No one remained in town but the women and us children,” Mateo writes. With his mother not allowed to plant and work on the lands (simply because she is a woman without money) and not able to find other work, she and her children leave. Thus begins the boy’s perilous journey with his mother and sister to cross the border into the United States in order to find work and the boy’s father.
Many reviewers have already praised the book for its empathetic look at the complex (and very relevant, as Booklist notes) issue of migration. The book closes with an Author’s and Artists’s Note, which discusses the dangerous journeys many families make to the U.S.: “They launch themselves on a journey full of danger because they have the hope of finding a job and of living in peace, or because they want to reunite with their family. They leave because of poverty, mistreatment, or violence.” Later, they note that when many children migrate, they cannot legally prove their names upon arrival in the U.S. …
“nor can they request documents to do so; many times they cannot even manage to find out what their real age is. For this reason we have created this book: to demand these children’s right to exist.”
It’s powerful stuff.
Javier Martínez Pedro’s one long illustration is, as you can see here, detailed and intricate, and it’s artwork to pore over. Here is the entire piece of art that makes up this accordion-style book:
MIGRANT. Copyright © 2011 by José Manuel Mateo. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Javier Martínez Pedro. Spanish and English version published in 2014 by Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
1) Yesterday, Maira Kalman was at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, where they are exhibiting her pieces from The Elements of Style Illustrated until September. It was wonderful to hear her talk about her work.
2) This photography exhibit is fascinating, too.
4) And this conversation between Phil and Erin Stead and Cece Bell is equally great.
5) I sort of re-discovered how much I love Neko Case’s “Ragtime.” It’s so happy and triumphant (I guess you should know it comes on the CD right after a song about how she struggled with depression for a while there) that it makes me tear up every time. “I’ll reveal myself invincible soon.” I mean, right? RIGHT!
7) Looking ahead.
(Hey, my last two kicks are so Little-Willow, aren’t they? She’s usually way more eloquent, though.)
What are YOUR kicks this week?