Mexique : A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War
by Ferrada, María José; Penyas, Ana (ILT); Amado, Elisa (TRN)

Follows a group of 456 children whose families sent them to Mexico aboard the Mexique at the start of the Spanish Civil War for what was expected to be a short stay. Includes historical notes.

María José Ferrada is a Chilean journalist and writer. She is a recipient of the Municipal Prize of Literature of Santiago, as well as the Academy Award from the Chilean Academy of Language. In 2018 she received the Hispanic-American Prize for poetry for children. She currently works as the children's editor of Chilean Memory, a digital resource center of the National Library of Chile.

Ana Penyas has a degree in fine arts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. In 2018, she was the first woman to win Spain's National Comic Award. She has also received the Josep Toutain Prize for Best New Talent at the International Comic Fair of Barcelona.

Raised in Valencia, she now lives in Madrid. Visit Ana's website at or follow her on Instagram @ana_penyas.

In commemoration of a lesser-known predecessor to WWII's Kindertransport, this atmospheric import recalls a 1937 voyage in which the titular ship carried 456 children of Spanish Republicans to safety in Mexico for, supposedly, a brief stay. Ferrada, a Chilean writer, takes the voice (if not the language) of a younger child for her terse, poetic narrative: "War is a huge hand that shakes you / and throws you onto a ship." Working from period photos for her illustrations, Penyas uses a dark, somber palette to portray downcast children trooping aboard a ship made small on a broad ocean, being welcomed in Veracruz, and then taking a train for Morelia, a city in Michoacán where, due to the outcome of the Spanish Civil War, most were to remain until at least 1948. Or so the author explains in a closing note that, though the appendix alludes to extensive research and interviews (none of which are cited), is disappointingly vague about the actual children and what became of any of them. Grades 2-4. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

On May 27, 1937, 456 children were evacuated from Spain during the Spanish Civil War. This book depicts their trans-Atlantic voyage to Mexico. Text and illustrations work hand in hand to tell their story. Adults carrying bundles and escorting children arrive at the port where the children are to embark. As the children board, the adults hug them tight. Through the voice of one of the children, readers learn of their fears and expectations. They see the older ones reassuring the younger ones, especially at night. They observe their songs and games, sad re-creations of the war scenes they have witnessed. They experience the voyage, which never seems to end. And finally the children arrive: â??We move forward. We think that the war stayed behind. But itâ??s not trueâ?"we bring the war in our suitcases.â? By focusing on the children (all depicted as White) and their feelings, the story of their journey becomes the sad, universal one of so many refugee children past and present. Sepia-toned images with the occasional touch of muted reds convey the grimness of the experience. The afterword informs readers the children arrived in Mexico with the expectation their stay would be short and they would soon reunite with their families back home. Little did they know this would be a permanent exile, and most of them would never see their families again. Specific yet universal in its narration, this makes the refugee experience accessible to young readers. (Picture book. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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