cover image Where Are You From?

Where Are You From?

Yamile Saied Méndez, illus. by Jaime Kim. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-283993-0

A girl with brown skin and dark curly pigtails encounters variations on the title question over and over. “Is your mom from here?” asks her ballet teacher. “Is your dad from there?” asks a friend’s mother. From her Abuelo, the girl learns she comes from the Pampas region of Argentina, and that she descends from “the gaucho, brave and strong” and those who were once “in chains because of the color of their skin.” As text by Méndez (Blizzard Besties) transports the duo, Kim (La La La) places them at the center of a series of expansive digitized-watercolor spreads that celebrate various natural wonders and history (with no afterword, however—readers are on their own to decode the historic and geographic references, such as the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an Argentine human rights organization). Although the book begins as a gentle riposte to narrow cultural and ethnic categorizations, its conclusion reaches out to all readers, evoking both heritage and the human family: pointing to his heart, Abuelo says, “You’re from here, from my love and the love of all those before us.... You are from all of us.” Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Linda Camacho, Gallt and Zacker Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Claire Easton, Painted Words. [em](June) [/em]