We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Our quarterly reading theme from April to June this year is on Migrants, Exiles, Refugees: Stories Of The Dispossessed. Essentially, we are on the look-out for books with the following themes:
Stories of exile and movement from one place to another – either by choice or by circumstance
Narratives on im/migrants, belonging and exclusion
Tales of people who are in transition and displaced from their homes
Stories of seeking refuge and sanctuary and finding forever homes
Narratives of loss and dispossession
Mexique: A Refugee Story From The Spanish Civil War (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Maria Jose Ferrada Illustrated by Ana Penyas Translated by Elisa Amado
Published by Eerdmans Books For Young Readers (2020)
ISBN: 9780802855459 (ISBN10: 0802855458). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
While I am familiar with the story of the kindertransport in Britain (see here for last week’s Nonfiction Wednesday post on Peter Sis’s Nicky and Vera), this is the first time I am hearing of the sea escape by the children of Spanish Republicans to Morelia, Michoacan in Mexico during the Spanish Civil War.
Once again, I get my dose of historical events thanks to outstanding nonfiction international picturebooks like this one. The children’s parents assured them that their separation would be short-lived and to perceive this voyage as an extended summer vacation, and that within four months or so they will all be together again.
Little did they know that the Civil War would unfortunately end with General Francisco Franco winning the war and the children’s parents, mostly Spanish republicans, ending up either imprisoned or executed. Soon after, World War II began, making Europe an even more dangerous place.
The 456 children aboard Mexique ended up being permanently on exile, came to be known as the “Children of Morelia,” and eventually had to find a life for themselves. The few who did manage to go back to their hometown many years later felt a sense of alienation “in a country with siblings and landscapes that they no longer recognized.”
If there was one silver lining in this narrative, that would be the warm welcome given by the Mexican government to these 456 young souls when they reached the shore of Mexico. Ferrada’s lyrically haunting text paired with the disturbing images of Ana Penyas makes for an unforgettable reading. I hope that more people around the world would get their hands on this nonfiction title dedicated:
To the Children of Morelia. And to all those who are moving in search of a life without fear.
#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 66 out of target 100