The Return

A young woman gets on the bus and rides out of the big city. She arrives in the countryside, where she is as big as a giant, looming over a tiny house, a garden and her tiny grandmother. The cabbages and the apple trees are far below. Her grandmother smiles up at her in her yellow hat. The young woman bends down to give her little grandmother a big kiss, and then she smells her grandmother’s cooking. She has returned home. When they sit down at the table, the young woman has shrunk to a child-like size, and the two share a meal together in the garden. In this gentle, wordless story Natalia Chernysheva beautifully captures the feelings of coming home to comfort and memories and of returning to our childlike selves.

Caravan To The North: Misael’s Long Walk

This novel in verse is a powerful first-person account of Misael Martinez, a Salvadoran boy whose family joins the caravan heading north to the United States. We learn all the different reasons why people feel the need to leave the hope that lies behind their decision, but also the terrible sadness of leaving home. We learn about how far and hard the trip is, but also about the kindness of those along the way. Finally, once the caravan arrives in Tijuana, Misael and those around him are relieved. They think they have arrived at the goal of the trip — to enter the United States. But then tear gas, hateful demonstrations, force and fear descend on these vulnerable people. The border is closed. The book ends with Misael dreaming of El Salvador. This beautiful and timely story is written in simple but poetic verse by Jorge Argueta, the award-winning author of Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds. Award-winning Mexican illustrator Manuel Monroy illuminates Misael’s journey. An author’s note is included, along with a map showing the caravan’s route.

Thukpa for All

Tsering can’t wait to taste his grandmother’s delicious noodle soup. He invites a string of friends and neighbours home. But as preparations get underway, there is a power cut and the house is plunged into darkness. Will Abi be able to put together the much-anticipated thukpa? Told from a blind child’s perspective, this tale by Praba Ram and Sheela Preuitt is accompanied by Shilpa Ranade’s stunning illustrations.

The Other Half Of Happy

Twelve-year-old Quijana is a biracial girl, desperately trying to understand the changes that are going on in her life; her mother rarely gets home before bedtime, her father suddenly seems to be trying to get in touch with his Guatemalan roots (even though he never bothered to teach Quijana Spanish), she is about to start seventh grade in the Texas town where they live and she is worried about fitting in–and Quijana suspects that her parents are keeping secrets, because she is sure there is something wrong with her little brother, Memito, who is becoming increasingly hard to reach.

Soldier For Equality

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.

Julian Is A Mermaid

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.