Tuesday, August 21, 2018

NFPB Wed. - Documented or Undocumented - A welcome?

art by Sarah S. Brannen

         Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  
         It seems fitting to pair these two books, one a promise, and the other, a story of one immigrant's life that represents others in the U.S. today, and in the past as well. 

          Some books need to be read. One should not depend on the review. I’ve waited a long time to read this because of many holds at the library.  Eggers' voice is so strong, I imagine him reading this aloud to us all. He cries to us: "Pay attention". He says to know the history if we don't already know it, then he points to a little-talked-about feature, "her right foot". It's lifted; she's on the go! Just as immigrants are, coming into a country for safety and opportunity. Harris’ ink-and–construction-paper collages show the history Eggers shares, but what I enjoyed most was his showing arrivals and their descendants, who are all united in their very diversity of age, sex, dress, and skin color. 
        I've visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, wish we had paid more notice to that "right foot"!

         Duncan Tonatiuh pays tribute again, like Pancho Rabbit and The Coyote, in a great story to immigrants, this story of those workers, documented and undocumented who perform the jobs in the U.S. that others may not want--construction, gardening, restaurant work, cleaning. This time, the story centers on a fictional character, Juan, who works at a restaurant. He has stolen across the border as a young teen, led by a coyote, is caught, but tries again and makes it. He must make money, finds work in a restaurant. 

         Time moves on, he meets his wife but continues this job. A young Chinese woman also working at the restaurant presses to meet him. He is surprised, wondering what she wants, reminds her he is married. But what she wants is to inform him of the terrible pay and conditions under which they work and asks him to attend a worker's center meeting. This story tells of the long months persuading co-workers to go, too, and then to sign a legal complaint. The fears of doing that, plus the long wait which often means sacrifices when waiting for the outcome are terribly hard. What if they are all deported? What if those who are already legal are fired? Tonatiuh shows with great detail, the action, and the emotions. He adds an author's note with further detail and a bibliography. 
         Tonatiuh continues his unique way of illustrating, paying tribute to ancient 
codexes and their drawings: people and animals are always drawn in profile and their entire bodies are usually shown. This specific book is told via the ancient Mixtec codex—accordion fold—format. One reads through the story, then turns it over to read the other half. It's a powerful book for middle-grade classrooms and up, adults, too!

          Here's a partial picture of the story's beginning and the look of the book:



  1. I sooooo loved Her Right Foot. Putting a hold on Undocumented.

    1. I didn't add this, but read Her Right Foot to my youngest granddaughter last evening. She knew about the Statue of Liberty, and loved learning more. I orginally thought it for older readers, but now know it's for a range of ages. Thanks, Annette. Enjoy Undocumented!

  2. I really want to read Undocumented. I just put it out on interlibrary loan to see if I can find a copy of it.
    Read Her Right Foot to several classes last year and there were always great conversations around it!

    1. Glad to hear about your reading of Her Right Foot. I think it's a gem! Good luck with finding Undocumented, another wonderful one from Duncan Tonatiuh! Thanks, Michele.


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