Beast Rider
Beast Rider
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Annotation: Manuel leaves his small town in Mexico to join his older brother in Los Angeles.However, to cross the US border, he must face the dangers of becoming a beast rider--"someone who hops on a train.
Catalog Number: #181920
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 181 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: 1-419-73363-X
ISBN 13: 978-1-419-73363-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018038535
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
A Mexican boy makes the treacherous journey to Los Angeles to find his older brother in this timely novel. Manuel loves his family, his dog, and his dusty corn plot. But he dearly misses his older brother, Toño, who hopped the train to America. Despite the dangers of riding "the beast" can dismember hopeful riders as they try to board, and its passengers often face violence from police and gangs nuel hops the train, too. During his three-year journey, Manuel meets with both violent cruelty and extraordinary kindness. When he makes it to Los Angeles and to Toño, Manuel is finally safe, but he wonders if Los Angeles will ever feel like home. The authors do not shy away from the brutal realities of Manuel's journey, but they also glory in the kindness and love of strangers, giving this harrowing story a balance of fear and hope. Manuel is a resilient protagonist who feels the effects of his traumatic passage but also displays a fierce commitment to finding home, wherever that may be. A tough yet hopeful immigration story.
Publishers Weekly
In this often wrenching story about Manuel, a 12-year-old boy from Oaxaca, Mexico, the authors convey what motivates him to leave his poverty-stricken life to ride -the Beast- (a train heading to the U.S. border) and the hardships he faces during the journey and upon arrival. Told in short, action-packed chapters and in Manuel-s distinctive first-person, present-tense voice, the compact tale covers long miles and several years. The brutal narration details constant movement and determined forward motion, despite daunting setbacks: -Here I am on this terror train thundering to The North. I am hungry. I am thirsty. I am tired.... Though crushed against many other people, I am lonely to the bone.- Manuel encounters dishonesty, theft, cruelty, gang brutality, and mercenaries, as well as kind strangers, healers, protectors, and friends. Upon his reunion in Los Angeles with his beloved brother, Manuel-s traumatic experiences haunt and hinder his ability to adapt to his new home. Johnston (Bone by Bone by Bone) and de Rhoads (a psychotherapist and debut author) offer a sympathetic, illuminating portrait of the challenges faced by one undocumented immigrant. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Manuel follows in his brother's footsteps as he jumps a train that will take him to the U.S.-Mexico border."Call me Manuel." Johnston and Fontanot de Rhoads evoke Moby-Dick's iconic opening in setting the scene for Manuel, a 12-year-old Mexican boy, to conquer The Beast and reunite with his brother Toño. Leaving behind his corn-farming family and the milpita they work in Oaxaca, Manuel rides The Beast, a name given by locals to the many trains traveling north. For many The Beast is a vehicle that will lead them to their hopes and dreams. For others, it is a monster that will tear away their limbs and disable them for life. With danger lurking on each train car, Manuel must be cautious of the brutal gangs that prey on the weak and rely on the bond that unites migrants on their harrowing journey and the patrons who help riders tame The Beast. Like the chugging of The Beast, Johnston's poetic prose permeates Manuel's journey and gives a steady rhythm to the story even as Oaxaca-based psychotherapist and translator Fontanot de Rhoads provides details to ground it. Without shying away from the cruel and often crude journey that migrants experience, the authors deliver a captivating story of travelers dreaming a better future and their incandescent fight to achieve it.A beautiful, visceral plunge into the perils that the train-jumping migrant brotherhood experiences. (Fiction. 12-14)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 4-7
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z

Twelve-year-old Manuel leaves his small town in Mexico to join his older brother in Los Angeles. To cross the US border, he must become a "beast rider"--someone who hops on a train. The first time he tries, he is stopped by the Mexican police, who arrest and beat him. When he tries again, he is attacked by a Mexican gang and left for dead. Just when Manuel is ready to turn back, he finds new hope. Villagers clothe and feed him, help him find work, and eventually boost him back onto the train. When he finally arrives in LA and is reunited with his brother, he is elated. But the longer he's there, the more he realizes that something isn't right. Thrilling and heartfelt, Beast Rider is a coming-of-age story that reveals how a place and its people help to define you.

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