I Wish You Knew
by Kramer, Jackie Azúa; Mora, Magdalena (ILT)

After Estrella's father is deported because he is an illegal immigrant, her teacher at school invites her and the other students to meet around an old oak tree and share the things they wished their teacher knew about their life at home.

Jackie Azúa Kramer studied acting and voice at New York University and earned her MA at Queens College for Counseling in Education. Jackie has worked as an actor, singer, and school counselor. Her work with children presented her with an opportunity to address their concerns, secrets and hopes through storytelling. Now she spends her time writing children's picture books. Jackie's books include the award-winning The Green Umbrella (a Bank Street College Best Children's Books of the Year), If You Want to Fall Asleep, and The Boy and the Gorilla. Jackie lives with her family in Long Island, New York. When not writing, you'll find Jackie reading, watching old movies and travelling to her family's roots in Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Spain.

Magdalena Mora is a Minneapolis-based illustrator and graphic designer with a special interest in children's books and visual storytelling. She has also illustrated Deborah Diesen's Equality's Call. When not drawing, she spends her free time reading, people-gawking, and trying to find the best tacos in the Twin Cities. Mostly the latter.

At the center of Estrella's school is an old oak tree-a locus for the children and their teacher to explore, learn, play, and share their thoughts and fears. The tree provides a comforting place for Estrella to be alone when she is sad about her father, who wasn't born in the U.S., being forced to return to his home country. Here Estrella can allow herself to miss him and think about the ways his absence changed their family. A teacher sees Estrella and, with the help of the all-­knowing oak, finds a way to invite her and the other students to share the things they wish the teacher knew. The cheerful colors mirror the warmth and playfulness in the scenes of the school community, representing hope, which is ultimately the message. The teacher and children come together through sharing and strengthen their connections to one another under the protection of the old oak tree. This meditation on social and emotional communication will prompt readers, old and young, to open up about their vulnerabilities. Grades K-2. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

A father's forced absence is keenly felt by a Latinx child. Shortly after planting sunflower seeds for his daughter's school, the father is deported. She wishes that her teacher knew how much life has changed for her family. The teacher, on the other hand, wishes her students were aware that "they / are not / alone." The 100-year-old oak tree at the center of the school is the sharing place where all students can reveal their secrets. As they feel increasingly comfortable opening up about their home lives, they come together and plant sunflower seeds in hopes that the girl's father will one day see them bloom. Kramer's homage to the "I Wish My Teacher Knew" movement draws attention to the many hardships children experience at home while still trying to succeed in school. The examples given are particularly poignant. Mora's soft, mixed-media illustrations reflect a diverse and dynamic classroom and sympathetically portray many of the challenges faced by children. Although it is presumed that the teacher is the initial focus of the titular statement, the shifting perspectives can make for awkward and murky transitions. Curiously, Kramer, who is half Puerto Rican, states in her author's note that Puerto Ricans are U.S. residents rather than citizens. A Spanish-language edition publishes simultaneously. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 14.8% of actual size.) For success in school, the importance of empathy and compassion can't be overstated. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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