for Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar
Fourth grader Betita loves creating picture poems—drawings accompanied by words to capture her experiences and feelings. Her father loves telling her stories about Aztlán (the land of cranes), and likens their family to cranes flying free, their escape to the United States to flee cartel violence in Mexico a return to ancestral homelands. When Betita’s father is picked up at work and deported by ICE, Betita and her pregnant mother make the long drive to visit him at Friendship Park at the border in San Diego, only to miss the exit. Detained as undocumented immigrants trying to come back, they’re caged with other women and children on a cold floor, given silvery blankets that provide no comfort and little warmth. Lice is rampant; the food is barely edible; the guards uncaring, sometimes abusive. Betita’s mom offers support and encouragement to Betita and others, but when she’s hospitalized after frightening pregnancy complications, Betita is left alone. A lawyer working on her father’s case, a young activist who has also been detained, and a family Betitia becomes close to provide respite from that fear, as do Betita’s picture poems, which become a way for her and others to document what is happening to them. This child-centered novel in verse in Betita’s voice conveys the warmth and love of her family in early pages as vividly as the coldness of the detention center, and her fear. (Ages 9-12)
CCBC Choices 2021. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2021. Used with permission.
From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.Then one day, Betita's beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.