Monday, July 23, 2012

Migrant – Maxine Trottier

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
2011, Groundwood Books
32 pages
Rating:  4

Endpapers:  Flying Goose quilt, red/pink background
Title Page:  White with flying goose triangles flying…
Illustrations:  simple, watercolors or watercolor pencils?
Setting:  Contemporary America, places where migrant farm workers live and shop.
1st sentence/s:  “There are times when Anna feels like a bird.  It is the birds, after all, that fly north in the spring and south every fall, chasing the sun, following the warmth.”
OSS:  Anna and her large German-speaking Mennonite family live in Mexico, but travel north each year when it is time to labor on the farms.

The story uses a lot of “snazzy” figurative language…perhaps even a tiny, tiny bit too much.  Filled with metaphor, similes, and lovely descriptions, the story definitely does appeal to the senses and the imagination.

I will definitely use this book in my classroom when teaching figurative language, especially similes and metaphors.

“At night Anna is a kitten sharing a bed with her sisters, all of them under one blanket when the nights are cool.  A kitten is a good thing to be, a safe thing, curled there with your sisters by your side.”

When you look at the illustrations, you know that the characters are not Hispanic.  After the halfway point, you see the family lined up to go into a store, and you see the kerchiefs covering the female heads, the overalls, simple shirts, and hats covering the males heads. Then she mentions them speaking German, “….the good plain German rolling off their tongues as sweetly as sugar.”  But it’s not until the two-page afterward that you learn the particulars about the Mennonite workers that moved to Mexico in the 1920’s to become migrant workers, keeping their Canadian citizenship. 
Really interesting!  A great book to share when teaching about Mexico.  This was all totally new to me!

About the author:  a writer from Newfoundland, she wrote this story after meeting Mennonites from Mexico when she was visiting in Ontario.

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