cover image Niños: Poems for the Lost Children of Chile

Niños: Poems for the Lost Children of Chile

María José Ferrada, trans. from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel, illus. by María Elena Valdez. Eerdmans, $18.99 (76p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5567-1

Through short poems, Ferrada (Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War) honors the memories of the 34 children who were among the victims of General Pinochet’s 17-year regime in Chile, which began in 1973. Many of the poems, each titled with one child’s name, imagine an encounter with a small, precious part of nature: seasons, a bird, the moon’s reflection in a glass of water. A poem titled “Jessica” starts, “She devoted that day to watching the ants,” which parade, carrying crumbs, across a table. Jessica crumbles bread for them and leaves a tiny note with it: “A gift, for next winter.” Multimedia drawings in muted shades by Valdez flash with the occasional spark of yellow, as in the poem in which a child named Susana watches a town’s lights turn off: “It’s like watching sunsets/ lightning bugs/ tiny lighthouses.” Dedicated to “the memory that helps us defeat monsters,” the childhoods that Ferrada imagines for these young victims of violence—childhoods in which nothing bad happens, and there’s enough time for each to do whatever they like—feel both poignant and haunting. Ages 7–up. [em](Mar.) [/em]