Audience: Grades PreK-3
Review by Kayla Hlad (she/her)
MLIS Student, Kent State University iSchool
Yuyi Morales captures the boundless spirit of creativity, discovery, and love in her picturebook memoir, Dreamers (Spanish edition, Soñadores). The narrative begins with the author’s dream and love for her child, Kelly, the two reaching out to one another. Together, the loving family takes on a journey to the unfamiliar and become migrantes, crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.
Though they come to the States with few physical items, they do not come empty handed. Their backpack is packed with symbolic gifts‒among many others, a flower, a ball of light, and a pencil peaking out and waiting to be shared. When the mother and child later discover the public library in their new home, these gifts come alive in spreads of awe-inspiring mixed-media illustrations. As Yuyi Morales shares in her author’s note, “Kelly and I were Dreamers in the sense that all immigrants, regardless of our status, are Dreamers: we enter a new country carried by hopes and dreams, and carrying our own special gifts, to build a better future.”
This 2019 medal winner of the Pura Belpré Youth Illustrator Award is a masterpiece of art, poetry, and narrative. Spanish and English are married seamlessly throughout to weave this familiar, yet personal, story of immigration. The author’s repetition, symbolism, and poetic language throughout adds to the delightfully evocative magic surrealism of the illustrations. Smokestacks in the city speak, flowers bloom in the library, and a butterfly motif dances with a constant presence. Together these elements create a dynamic, multi-layered piece that families will want to explore for years to come. An instant family treasure on any bookshelf, a must for every library collection, and a read-aloud I wouldn’t skip when designing family storytimes.
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