cover image The Land of the Cranes

The Land of the Cranes

Aida Salazar. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-338-34380-9

This free-verse novel by Salazar (The Moon Within), set in 2018 and narrated in the perceptive, compassionate voice of fourth grader Betita Quintero, offers a close look at the experiences of an undocumented Mexican-born child and her pregnant mother in a family detention center. Betita lives in modest circumstances in East Los Angeles with her loving, hardworking Mami and Papi, learning from inspiring teacher Ms. Martinez to create daily picture poems “to paint our feelings.” The Quinteros’ hopes that the sanctuary state will provide safety are dashed with an ICE raid at Papi’s work site; when Betita and Mami travel to visit him at the Tijuana border, a missed turn takes them into Mexico and detainment in a “big frozen/ concrete monster,” where they huddle with other women and children under Mylar “capes” in chain-link cells, and are mocked by the guards. Betita’s faith in the story Papi tells—that one day “our people would return to Aztlán,” the land of the cranes, the U.S. Southwest—sustains her as the picture poems she creates become both solace and a source of important documentation. Salazar’s lyrical verse fashions empowerment out of indignity and suffering, creating a stirring and accessible, all-too-timely story. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Sept.) [/em]