cover image Two White Rabbits

Two White Rabbits

Jairo Buitrago, trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado, illus. by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-741-2

Hope and hardship coexist in this haunting look at refugees fleeing home in hopes of a safer, more secure life. While strongly suggestive of Mexico, the setting is never mentioned explicitly, nor are the reasons why the young narrator and her father are traveling. For the girl, counting—chickens on the side of the road, people encamped by train tracks—offers a stability that her day-to-day life cannot; numbers are constant, even when you’re always on the move. On every step of their journey, which includes fording a muddy river on rafts built on rubber tires and riding atop a rusted-out train, they are joined by a narrow-eyed coyote, a visual metaphor for those who smuggle migrants and refugees across borders, not always with good intentions. Colored in drab browns and blues, Yockteng’s illustrations emphasize the closeness between father and daughter without downplaying the dangers they face. Buitrago and Yockteng (who previously collaborated on Jimmy the Greatest!) leave the family’s story open-ended, powerfully underscoring the idea that there are few certainties in the life of a refugee. Ages 4–7. (Oct.)