What if you suddenly found yourself living in another country? How would you cope with the difference in language and culture? In Sonadores, Morales takes the reader on a surprising journey of hope, confusion, and of course, discovery. Yuyi Morales came to the United States with her son to visit her ailing grandfather and meet up with her son’s father. However, according to immigration laws at that time, she was required to stay in the United States. Morales uses inventive illustrations using mixed media to showcase the journey of her and her son in assimilating to American culture. While naming the book Sonadores does not create any type of question, the English translation of this book, Dreamers, may bring to mind a different story of recipients of DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Lastly, this book offers a perspective of the experience of an immigrant family. However, this is not a story that represents all immigrants and their experience. That is why it is important.
EVALUATION OF BOOK
In the last page of this work, Morales tells the reader how she made this book or “Como hice este libro” (Morales, 2018, p. 29). Her list of media is seemingly endless. After including that she used acrylic paints and drew on paper using ink and paintbrushes she includes other media like this:
“Drawings I made as a child that my mother saved – handpainted pants I made for my son – a brick from my house – a traditional skirt from Chiapas – and many more things (Morales, 2018, p. 29).”
The reader, without having read this, sees on every page, the most eclectic mix of media and renderings. On one of the opening pages, the reader sees a mother crossing a bridge with a baby in her arms. Flanked to her left and right are of course the handrails, and barbed wire, but also birds and butterflies. Below her shirt is a skirt that looks like a colorful fire. Below her is a bird holding an embroidered banner that says in “Adios Corazon” (See Image 2). This mix media is a perfect example of the combination of cultures – Morales and her son are Mexican, but also now American.
While this book in Spanish is called Sonadores and in English, Dreamers, it might be confused for a name used in the current political climate. “Dreamers” are also a term used to refer to the recipients of DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is important to note that this story is not specifically about DACA recepients. Instead, Morales makes her focus more about her story of adapting and the story of her son. They find themselves in a new world- albeit confusing at first. It is a world where they evolve, and dream of:
“Algun dia llegaremos a ser algo que aun ni siquiera nos imaginamos” or roughly in English – We cannot even image what we can accomplish.
This is important for teachers and librarians to be aware of in regards to how this book is handled, especially if they plan to use this book in a read aloud. Another way this book can be utilized for older students is by opening up a discussion about immigration policy, and comparing the journey of Morales to other stories or comparing this story to a story of a Dreamer (DACA recipient). It opens up many possibilities.
In her 2009 TED talk, Award-winner Nigerian author, Chimamda Adichie warns against the dangers of the single story. In her talk, she recalls that after growing up with only American and English books and at a certain point, “had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify” (Adichie, 2009). In this case, we have Morales and her son, both Mexican immigrants. Sonadores is a book of great importance because it offers children more stories about immigrants. The story of every immigrant is different and the dangers of labeling them can lead to or reinforce stereotypes or racism. Not every person who immigrated to America is undocumented. Not every person who immigrated to America crossed the Rio Grande River. The list of possible stories of immigrants is innumerable, which is why this story is so important. It adds an additional story to the stories that have already been recorded, but also adds a new and different narrative. In this way, students who are immigrants, to a varying extent, can see themselves in this story and students who are not recent immigrants can learn to empathize with the story of families like this.
Sonadores is a highly recommended addition to any library that serves children. It is the story of a woman and her son entering the United States and encountering a very different and new culture. It is a story of a mother and her son learning the differences and opportunities of this country. Morales tells her story, which is an excellent way to propagate the idea that not every immigrant has the same story. These stories belong in the hands of children who can relate to them, such as recently immigrated children, but is equally important for children who have not had this experience. That is why we want to expose students to different narratives and this book is recommended for that reason.
Morales, Y. (2018). Sonadores. Neal Porter Books.
Adichie, C. (2009, July). The danger of the single story [Video]. TED Conferences. https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are