La Frontera

Mills, Deborah and Alfredo Alva. La Frontera.  Illustrated by Claudia Navarro. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books, 2018.


Illegal immigration is not a new issue. La Frontera is autobiographical – it tells the story of Alfredo Alva and his trip across the border with his father in the 1980’s. Together Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva have written the story of the why and the how of that trip. Alfredo Alva and his father were able to eventually become U.S. citizens due to the amnesty then-President Reagan granted to some immigrants. Many children do not understand why the immigrants arriving at our borders have made the long trip to the United States. La Frontera explains the why of one boy and his father.

I like Claudia Navarro’s colorful illustrations. She used a digital collage format. The illustrations help children better visualize what is happening in the story.

La Frontera is a dual-language book with the text written in both Spanish and English. The book closes with a non fiction section which tells Alfredo’s Story, gives information about border and culture, and shares information about immigration.

I am thankful for this opportunity to participate in Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Thanks go to author Deborah Mills for the complimentary copy of La Frontera in exchange for this honest review. The book will now be placed in the biography section of my school library.

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For more information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, be sure to visit my library blog where I have posted more information.

New Starred Bilingual Children’s Book from School Library Journal: “Alva, along with coauthor Mills, narrates his experiences as a young child crossing the Mexican and U.S. border with his father. Their journey is prompted by financial needs that force Alva and his father to sadly leave behind the rest of the family and travel north with the help of a coyote, a smuggler of people. At the Rio Grande, the coyote takes their money and abandons them. Together, the father and son find their own way to the embassy. After floating across the river, climbing a mountain, and trudging across a giant valley, they arrive at their destination only to discover that the embassy is nothing more than a broken-down campsite inhabited by other refugees. After a few short weeks, Alva is off to school in Texas, alone and scared. Learning a different language is confusing, but with the help of new friends, he learns English while helping them with their math.

Alva and Mills make this bilingual autobiographical story readily accessible through well-written and vivid text. Though lengthy, the narrative never feels overwritten. Navarro’s expressive acrylic, graphite, and digital collage illustrations provide a poignant and moving backdrop for this compelling first-person narrative. Back matter includes information on immigration, a history of the U.S. and Mexican border, and photos of Alva’s family and hometown. VERDICT An authentic and humanizing perspective on immigration; a must-have for classrooms, libraries, and bilingual collections.

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