#SurvivalStories2021 Books Early Readers Features Genre International Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes Stories Of The Dispossessed

[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Tribute To The Children Of Morelia

"To the Children of Morelia. And to all those who are moving in search of a life without fear."

Myra here.

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:

  1. Stories of exile and movement from one place to another – either by choice or by circumstance

  2. Narratives on im/migrants, belonging and exclusion

  3. Tales of people who are in transition and displaced from their homes

  4. Stories of seeking refuge and sanctuary and finding forever homes

  5. 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

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Tribute To The Children Of Morelia

  1. Completely Full Bookshelf

    Wow—I was unaware of this awful historical event, and it sounds like this book captures it painfully, accurately, and beautifully. I really appreciate your thoughtful review of this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing this heart wrenching story, and for your fine review. It’s an important book to be out in the world.


  3. Pingback: [My 2021 in Books] Favourite Nonfiction PictureBooks Read in 2021 – #Top21of21 – Gathering Books

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