Pellegrino, Marge. Journey of Dreams
1 August 2009, Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Tomasa and her family live in the Highlands of Guatemala in 1984. She and her mother weave garments to sell at the market, and her father and brothers farm. When her mother makes an offhand remark about chemicals being sprayed by airplanes making the children sick, the soldiers who have been causing problems target the family. When Carlos is very nearly taken away by soldiers with an older neighbor boy, the mother decides to flee with him. Tomasa, her father, grandmother and two younger siblings stay, until soldiers attack their village. The grandmother dies, but the father decides to try to make it to Guatemala City to reconnect with the mother. Even there is not safe, and with the help of coyotes, the family ends up living in a park in Mexico City. A humanitarian group helps them locate the mother and brother in Phoenix, and they eventually make their way there.
Strengths: Ms. Pellegrino works with people who need to relocate to the US due to horrible conditions in their own countries, so the details of every day life in this are brilliant. The description of the weaving, cooking, and going to market are so vivid, and most middle schoolers will be surprised that people live in ways that differ from their own lives. This could be pared with many other books about difficult circumstances. Since I can't think of anything else about life in Guatemala, this was interesting to read.
Weaknesses: I could have done without the descriptions of Tomasa's dreams, but it's a slight objection. I think I will purchase this for when we have multicultural units.
When looking up Guatemalan weaving, I came across the Sharing the Dream fair trade shop. I'd love to find a huipil or skirt to wear! They are quite beautiful.