The powerful story of a child refugee seeking asylum in America
Thirteen-year-old Manuelito is a gentle boy who lives with his family in a tiny village in the Guatemalan countryside. But life is far from idyllic: PACs—armed civil patrol—are a constant presence in the streets, and terrifying memories of the country’s war linger in the villagers’ collective conscience. Things deteriorate further when government-backed drug gangs arrive and take control of the village. Fearing their son will be forced to join a gang, Manuelito’s parents make the desperate decision to send him to live with his aunt in the United States.
With just a bus ticket and a small amount of cash in hand, Manuelito begins his hazardous journey to Mexico, then the U.S., in search of asylum. But in the end, dangers such as the crooked “coyote”—or human smuggler—his parents have entrusted their son’s life to may be nothing compared to the risks Manuelito faces when he finally reaches the United States.
Manuelito’s titular character is just one of the staggering two hundred thousand children from the Northern Triangle of Central America—Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—who have made this perilous journey to escape their war-torn countries. Many are now detained in Mexico, separated from their parents and without access to lawyers, facing the unthinkable prospect of being sent back to the homes and danger they risked so much to escape.
Drawing on years of experience working with child refugees like Manuelito, Elisa Amado’s powerful story, illustrated with striking poignancy by Abraham Urias, brings to light the dire circumstances of so many children, so close to home.
ELISA AMADO was born in Guatemala and now lives in Toronto. Amado’s other children’s books include What Are You Doing? and Why Are You Doing That?
ABRAHAM URIAS was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States during the civil war. He works as a designer at a major movie studio in Los Angeles.
“Paints a searing picture.”- Youth Services Book Review, 12/13/18
“Compelling and powerful.”- CM Reviews, 01/18/19
“This hard-hitting graphic novel . . . is an eye-opening, moving, and timely read.”- School Library Journal, 02/19
“A blunt, effective record of the refugee crisis that’s wounding the Americas.”- Kirkus Reviews, 01/14/19
“Gripping and all too authentic . . . The book will raise questions, making it a great discussion starter for a class studying current issues.”- School Library Connection, 05/19
“Guatemala-born Amado’s text is spare, direct, and emotional—communicating the anxiety and desperation that the characters feel, especially once their hopes for safety in the U.S. are dashed.”- Quill & Quire, 03/19
“A powerful and edgy graphic novel that explores the refugee crisis in a way that makes it accessible to younger readers.”- Globe and Mail, 05/07/19
“Neither author nor artist holds back in presenting the life-and-death scenarios unrelentingly happening now.”- Booklist, 06/19
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