For your kids and for you…
I have to admit, I am a big fan of Children’s literature, and of picture books in particular. No matter how, the kid’s corner is my favorite spot at the library, where I can literally spend hours without caring of whining babies around me, of moms and babysitters with the most absurd accents reading books to their kids, or ignoring the annoying music of videogames coming from the computer stations.
So, during my restless hours of browsing and research about books dealing with immigration issues, I came across a bunch of wonderful little treasures, which of course I shared with my own kids.
Enjoy my choice!
- The Arrival, Shaun Tan, Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, 2006
My favorite ever. I bought it for 25 cents at a garage sale, one month after MY arrival in the States. I cried and cried and cried, as only those who can relate to it can. The book is a wordless graphic novel in sepia tones describing the journey of an immigrant in the early 20th century. The use of surreal elements to describe the unfamiliar country is one of the most poetic non narrative description of the cultural shock. Best: intended for an older audience but enjoyed also by our little migrants for its superb art.
- Journey, Aaron Becker, Candlewick Press, 2013
I found this book by chance, left on the library table by a previous reader, and got my attention. A terrific wordless picture book about a girl who finds herself lonely and with no friends to play with, possibly in a new town. The book is drawn again in soft sepia tones (I think I like the style) with the color red used to symbolize the use of imagination as a redemptive strategy against loneliness. Best: the urban and new family setting is portrayed with an alienating mood that will speak to many kids experiencing any sort of distress in their new environment.
- Here I Am, Patti Kim, ill. Sonia Sánchez, Capstone Young Readers, 2013
I have read some reviews about this book and the most interesting one is the definition of it as The Arrival for kids. A tender wordless graphic-novel-style story about an Asian boy who moves to America with his family. The ink and watercolor art portrays the puzzlement, the loneliness, and the fears of the first days, but also the happiness of the last part, years later. The image of the seed, which needs patience and time to grow, is a beautiful metaphor used to explain the process of adjusting to a new culture. Best: the sequential art provide the visual and narrative for telling the story of the adjusting process.
- The Matchbox Diary, Paul Fleischman, ill. Bagram Ibatoulline, Candlewick, 2013
An immigration story told from the voice of an Italian-American old man to his granddaughter, using a matchbox containing objects from his past. The terrific art makes the book almost a journal of old photographs, and the tone is warm and comforting. Best: the art and the narrative of the story through the objects makes this book one of my favorite about immigration and sharing family stories.
- Migrant, Maxine Trottier, ill. Isabelle Arsenault, Groundwood Books, 2011
This book came after the suggestion of a friend of mine. The story is actually focused on the peculiar experience of the Mennonite migrants who follow the harvest season in Mexico and Canada. However, the beautiful illustrations and the lyrical narrative, will leave a mark on your life. Best: the image of the girl who would just like to be a tree, rooted to one place, letting the seasons change while she remains.
A final comment. All these books are published in the US. As you know, American publishers do not have a passion for foreign translations (I spoke about it in here), so if you know other good picture books about immigrations, migrants, expats & co. to share, please do share!!