In Jorge Argueta’s haunting novel in verse, Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk, Misael and his family can no longer live in their home, El Salvador, which they love. It is overrun by violence and gangs, and they cannot make enough money to get by. So with broken hearts, and bravery beyond all telling, they join a caravan to the North.
As hundreds of people gather in the Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo, the central square of San Salvador, Misael reflects:
they want to leave
for the same reasons.
They’ve lost hope.
The migrants are from all over El Salvador, and they have myriad reasons for leaving, as well as myriad dreams for their new lives. But they share a melancholy heartbreak about leaving their homeland and beginning their impossible journey.
On and on, through El Salvador, through Guatemala, and through all of Mexico, they go, until they finally reach Tijuana shortly after Christmas. Argueta cleverly draws the parallel between the refugees and Mary and Joseph looking for shelter, as Misael wistfully remembers the posadas of his hometown.
The stark black and white drawings by Manuel Monroy illustrate an even starker text. The pages are beautiful and spare, with enough white space for the reader to imagine the harrowing journey. Aimed at middle readers, teachers and parents could use this powerful book in many different ways: to discuss current events, to compare English and Spanish text, and ultimately, hopefully, to foster compassion in those of us living out Misael’s dream of the North. As for Misael and his family? Their final fate is unknown, as is the fate of countless sojourners who yearn for their chance to live the American Dream.
Caravan to the North
Author: Jorge Argueta
Illustrator: Manuell Monroy
Translator: Elizabeth Bell
More books for this Age Group can be found here.
My thanks to Groundwood Books for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.
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