Travesia: A Migrant Girl's Cross-Border Journey
Travesia: A Migrant Girl's Cross-Border Journey

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Annotation: A poignant bilingual YA graphic novel about a teenage girl's harrowing experience crossing the Mexico-US border.
Catalog Number: #256981
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel
Publisher: Consortium
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 62
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-551-52836-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-9376-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-551-52836-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-9376-6
Dewey: 921
Language: Spanish
Bilingual: Yes
ALA Booklist
The story of Gricelda and her journey, as told to the author, across the Mexico-U.S. border is told in both English and Spanish in this heartbreaking and engaging illustrated memoir. As a young person, Gricelda travels with her mother and younger brother to join her father and older brother in California, leaving behind their home and family in Mexico. The travel is difficult and frightening at times, and Gricelda's first-person account poignantly and candidly communicates her emotions. The narrative is brief and informative, and it's well matched by the illustrations, often spanning a two-page spread with the English and Spanish texts beneath on adjacent pages. The watercolor nature of the illustrations includes precise line work and incredible shading, and occasional collage scenes add both visual and emotional depth. Though this is less a graphic memoir than it is an illustrated account, the artwork brings additional life to Gricelda's story. A revelatory first-hand look at some of the struggles migrants face. A moving epilogue from Gricelda details the circumstances of her life after arriving in the U.S.
Kirkus Reviews
The true story of a 15-year-old migrant girl’s formidable trek across the U.S.–Mexico border.The memories contained here belong to Gricelda, who crossed la frontera alongside her mother and younger brother to reunite with her father and older brother. She related her story in Spanish to bilingual author Gerster, who shares it here, with the English and Spanish text on facing pages. Following a poignant prayer circle with extended family, Gricelda and her family headed to a squalid Tijuana hotel, where an unexpected stranger came to their hotel door. The trio soon found themselves in a house filled with other families. Unable to escape from the men who bartered over their upcoming journey or the ones drinking and doing drugs in the living room, they waited uncertainly until the day to cross the desert arrived. The trek across the desert proved hard even though a man called El Güero provided them with protection and encouragement. A short epilogue details how Gricelda and her mother and younger brother faced unanticipated challenges adjusting to the U.S. and their new lives, at first sharing a crowded apartment with unwelcoming cousins. Gerster, who has personal experience of family deportation, makes a noble, precise effort to represent Gricelda’s voice. Full of subdued blues, yellows, and oranges, Dunnett’s artwork captures the hazy scrapbook feel of memories, honoring Gricelda’s story and its nightmarish cadence.A confident chronicle from a young voice at the margins. (author's note) (Nonfiction. 12-18)
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up Photographer, documentary filmmaker, and educator Gerster shares the true account of a 15-year-old Mexican migrant, Gricelda, and her family's terrifying experience crossing the border between Mexico and the United States. This short story straddles the line between picture book and graphic novel, leaning more toward the former; text and imagery are kept separate and somewhat simple, without traditional panels. In the few instances where some semblance of panels are used, they are bordered by a stitched thread, which begins to unravel when Gricelda and her family begin their border-crossing in earnest. The illustrations largely have a wood grain texture overlaid on them and draw upon a varied palette, ranging from a warm honey gold to a cool amethyst, with grays and earth tones in between. Despite the importance of the subject matter, the story's brevity works against it, as much of the experience is shared without significant examination. Readers learn about the dangers from human coyotes, and the art depicts the treacherous wildlife and terrain of the desert, including actual coyotes, but it all happens quickly and is shared passively, reducing its impact. Much of the story is abruptly tied up via a text-only epilogue. The back matter includes an author reflection. Both English and Spanish language narration exists on each page. VERDICT Though this narrative tells an important story of immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, it could have benefited from more exploration to fill the story out. An additional purchase. Alea Perez, Elmhurst P.L., IL
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (3/1/04)
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 7-12
I was fifteen years old when I got the news that my dad and my older brother were going to the US. I remember that my mom was really sad, but the truth is I didn't know why. What I do know is that soon after they left, my mom, my younger brother and I had to go as well.

Tenía yo 15 años cuando recibí la noticias de que mi papá y mi hermano mayor se irían a los Estados Unidos. Recuerdo que mi mamá estaba muy triste pero en realidad no sabía por qué; lo que sí sé es que al poco tiempo de que ellos dos se fueron, mi mamá, mi hermano menor y yo tuvimos que irnos también.

A few days before we went to the US, my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and I did a prayer circle, as it was tradition in my family. My grandparents come from a long line of healers, so we were used to praying hand in hand, with incense, flowers, water, offerings ... It was beautiful. I miss all that.
Unos días antes de venir a los Estados Unidos, como era costumbre en mi familia: mis abuelos, primos, tíos y yo hicimos un círculo de oración. Mis abuelos han sido curanderos por generaciones, por lo que ya estábamos acostumbrados a rezar tomados de las manos, con incienso, flores, agua, ofrendas ... Era hermoso. Extraño todo eso.

The last circle that we made as a family was very emotional. Everyone had somber faces, like they knew something that I didn't. My mom, as always, had a face full of worry and anxiety.

El último círculo que hicimos como familia fue muy emocional. Todos tenían cara de tristeza, como si supieran algo que yo no sabía. Mi mamá como siempre, tenía cara de ansiedad y preocupación.

Soon after that we were on the road to Tijuana, first by car, then by bus. When we arrived in Tijuana our nightmare began.

Al poco tiempo estábamos en camino a Tijuana. Primero en carro y más tarde en autobús, cuando llegamos a Tijuana comenzó nuestra pesadilla.

The air was extremely humid. My clothes stuck to my body. It was a heat I had never felt before: intense and annoying. When we arrived at the hotel its appearance made us feel afraid. It was a very simple, dirty hotel.

[Spanish]El ambiente estaba muy húmedo. La ropa se me pegaba al cuerpo. Hacía un calor que nunca antes había sentido, intenso y molesto. Cuando llegamos al hotel sentimos miedo, pues tenía un aspecto muy simple y estaba muy sucio.

Someone knocked on our hotel room door and told us to come with him. At this moment I understood that we might be in danger. Imagine, a young mother with two kids, defenseless and alone.

Alguien tocó nuestra puerta y nos dijo que fuéramos con él. En ese momento comprendí que podríamos estar en peligro. Imagínense, una madre joven con dos niños, indefensa y sola.

Excerpted from Travesia: A Migrant Girl's Cross-Border Journey by Michelle Gerster
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

This compelling young adult graphic memoir, based on real events, tells the story of Gricelda, a fifteen-year-old Mexican girl who attempts to cross the border into America with her mother and younger brother in search of a better life. Their treacherous journey, filled with both heartbreak and hope, begins in Tijuana, where they are transported from house to house by strangers. Here they meet the mysterious smuggler el G ero, who promises to lead the young family through the mountains and the scorching heat of the desert and beyond. Can he prove himself by keeping them safe during the crossing? Will America be the country of dreams like they imagined? Or will adjusting to their new life in California be another type of struggle for Gricelda and her family? With captivating illustrations inspired by the graffiti and stencil art prevalent during the 2006 political uprising in Oaxaca, as well as local textiles and embroidery, Traves a is Gricelda's first-person account, derived from interviews with author Michelle Gerster and told in both English and Spanish, of crossing the Mexico-US border. Timely and relevant, Traves a is a vibrant and powerful testament to the desperation and resilience of millions of migrating people who endure the pain of leaving their old lives behind to embark on the perilous journey across borders in search of a new life. 100% of royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Centro Legal de la Raza, a legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of low-income, immigrant, Black, and Latinx communities through bilingual legal representation, education, and advocacy. Ages 12 and up.

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