Between Us and Abuela – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Between Us and Abuela A Family Story from the Border

Author: Mitali Perkins

Illustrator: Sara Palacios

 Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2019

Ages: 4-7

Themes: family, Christmas, Mexico, Mexicans, separation, border, gifts, grandmother

Opening:

Abuela stars in all of Mamà’s stories., but my only memory is a voice calling me, “angelita.” We haven’t seem my grandmother in five years. But today is La Posada Sin Fronteras, and we are taking a bus to the border to meet her.

Synopsis:

A young girl, her little brother, and mother visit the San Diego border to celebrate Las Posadas and see their Grandmother through the border fence at Christmas.

They are not allowed to pass anything through the fence. The girl understands that she is not allowed to give her Grandmother the scarf that she knitted for her. But the younger brother has made a picture for his grandmother and is distraught about the fact he cannot give it to her. This leads the girl to design a quick kite with the yarn and knitting needles Mom has in he purse that can fly over the fence (and which the border patrol does not prevent since they are technically not violating the rules of passing anything through the wall.)

Why I like this book:

I was surprised at how emotional I became at this family reunion through the fence, and Mitali does a grand job of creating the joy and tension of this family reunion as well as the empathy and collective joy on both sides of the wall, including the border patrol, when they manage to get Juan’s gift to Abuela.

I also learned about the annual Las Posadas celebration (commemorating Mary and Joseph looking for a room in Jerusalem right before Christmas) on the US/Mexico border. La Posada Sin frontera tradition is adapted, so family and friends gather along the border wall in San Diego/Tijuana, hear the Christmas story, sing songs and see family across the fence. Palacios’ cheerful illustrations show the infectious resilience and optimism of young people.

Activities/resources:

There is an author’s note at the back of the book about the two festivals, Las Posadas and La Posada Sin Fronteras.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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4 Responses to Between Us and Abuela – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Such a timely book! Boy, can’t read this one without it speaking to your heart! Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I love Mitali and her book! She shared it with us at Kidquake. Her heart shines through this story.

  3. Patricia Nozell says:

    I love this book & it’s a perfect choice for Christmas!

  4. This is a very touching and beautiful book. I love the solution for getting the scarf to grandma!

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