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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Migrant, written by Maxine Trottier and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood, 2011. $18.95 ages 9 and up

"What would it be like
to stay in one place - to
have your own bed, to
ride your own bicycle?
Anna wonders.

Now that would be

Anna is the daughter of migrant workers. With her Mennonite family she travels from Mexico to Canada, year after year. In this book she tells what it is like to share those travels and to watch her family work before always returning home at the end of the season.

She feels like the geese that fly south and then return as the weather warms, or a jackrabbit who finds a  new home in abandoned burrows. She feels like a bee as she watches her busy family at their work, and even a kitten when she finally snuggles into bed with her sisters after their  long day's work. Anna dreams of putting down roots and finding comfort in things being familiar:

"What would it be like to be a tree with roots sunk deeply into the earth - to watch the seasons passing around you the same way the wind passes through your branches?"

Anna shares her feelings about life through a series of vignettes, using descriptive, image-filled language to help those who read about her understand the life that she lives. The illustrations that accompany the text are as lyrical, showing what Anna describes in bold, detailed collage artwork that will grab the attention of those sharing this book.

In an end note, Maxine Trottier includes nonfiction information about migrant workers that will give her readers insight into the plight of many workers, who have few rights when they travel to another country to find seasonal work. Their lives can be very difficult and rife with problems. In particular she writes about Mexican Mennonites:

"But one special group of migrants - Mennonites from Mexico - kept their Canadian citizenship when they moved to Mexico in the 1920s. There they hoped to farm, withdraw from the modern world and find religious freedom. But times in Mexico became difficult. Meanwhile, Canadian farmers needed field workers, and so children like Anna began to make the long journey north with their families."
There will be much to discuss after sharing this fine book.

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