cover image Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War

Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War

María José Ferrada, trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado, illus. by Ana Penyas. Eerdmans, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5545-9

“Three or four months./ Like summer vacation, only longer.” That is what the narrator’s parents say when a child is placed on the Mexique, a ship bound for the Mexican city of Morelia during the Spanish Civil War. Working in a somber palette of black and white with accents of faded red, illustrator Penyas draws in childlike art, sometimes over photographed images of the 456 children aboard, “all children of Spanish Republicans,” with expressive strokes and smudges. On board, older children minister to younger (“sisters/ we didn’t have before”). Ferrada (Tweet!) creates powerful metaphors (“War is a huge hand that shakes you/ and throws you onto a ship”) and expresses the children’s realization when they arrive in Mexico: “We think that the war stayed behind. But it’s not true—we bring the war in our suitcases.” The story ends there, but journalist Ferrada’s detailed afterword tells the grim truth: safer in Mexico throughout the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, many of the children never went home. It’s a sobering contribution to the history of Spanish-speaking people in North America, and a memorial to a little-known group of refugees. Ages 7–10. [em](Oct.) [/em]