Monday, January 30, 2017

Book of the Week: Somos como las nubes = We Are Like the Clouds

Somos como las nubes = We Are Like the Clouds

by Jorge Argueta
Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano 
Translated by Elisa Amado from the Spanish 

Published by Groundwood, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978–1–55498–849–5

Age 9 and older
“…the odyssey that thousands of boys, girls and young people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico undertake when they flee their countries because of extreme poverty and fear of violence” is the subject of this powerful, bilingual collection of poems. The opening, title poem compares children and their dreams to clouds. Then the voice of a child in El Salvador offers warm images of neighborhood life, followed by references to gang members and violence. “Hit this one, hit that one. / I don’t want to be this one or that / one.” The journey poems speak through and to the experiences of many children, chronicling endless walking, the frightening bestia (train), the dessert crossing. “My father says / if we keep singing, / we’ll scare away all the tiredness / and the fear / and become a song.” These migrants are individual children, each with their own names and histories and hopes and dreams, a message eloquently reinforced in “We Introduce Ourselves to the Border Patrol.” And the idea that “We Are Like the Clouds” is irony, and perhaps necessity, in the face of the unwelcoming fence at the border. The two final poems can be interpreted as a literal dream, or as safety and happiness: an arrival. Author Jorge Argueta fled from El Salvador to the United States during the war in the 1980s. His poems are set against paintings by Alfonso Ruano both realistic and symbolic. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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