Jimena Pérez Puede Volar/Jimena Pérez Can Fly

Arte Público Pr./Piñata. Nov. 2019. 96p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781558858893.
Gr 3-6–Jimena Pérez loves her mami and papi, her dog Sultán, her abuela, and the fruits her mami sells at the San Jacinto market. She loves the sunrises and the sunsets of El Salvador and the books she reads at the market. When the threats of the neighborhood gangs grow closer, Jimena’s parents decide to take their daughter to the United States, far away from the impending violence. Jimena and her mami must make the long journey to Texas, boarding the train known as La Bestia (The Beast). When Jimena and her mother are caught by border agents and separated, Jimena is left alone with other children, unsure of where her mother is or when they will be reunited. Through her sadness, Jimena finds comfort in the books someone brings to the children, books full of beautiful pictures and words that give Jimena wings that help her fly. She becomes “a little bird.” Written with heartbreaking honesty, the lyrical poems provide insight into the intimate world of a young girl who loves her life and her family, but who, like so many others, must leave everything behind in order to reach a better—and safer—life. This bilingual book is divided into two sections, one with the poems in Spanish and the other with the poems in English.
VERDICT A necessary title for public and school libraries. Argueta presents a candid look at the reality many children and families face and the difficult choices they have to make when trying to change their lives.

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