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Review of Walk with Me

Walk with Me
by Jairo Buitrago; illus. by Rafael Yockteng; trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado
Preschool, Primary    Groundwood    32 pp.
3/17    978-1-55498-857-0    $18.95
e-book ed.  978-1-55498-858-7    $16.95

The book opens with an image of a young girl and a huge lion standing on a grassy hill, with a city skyline far behind them. The young girl offers the lion a flower and asks it to “keep [her] company on the way home.” Their journey is both mundane and dramatic, depending on whether you read the text or look at the pictures. Buitrago’s (Jimmy the Greatest, rev. 7/12) words tell a simple story of a young girl walking home from school, shopping for food, making dinner, and going to sleep. Yockteng’s illustrations tell a deeper story. The young girl, living in an unidentified Latin American city, is poor. Her socks are stained and droopy; the buildings in her neighborhood are dilapidated. Fog, or smog, hangs over the city. The illustrations further reveal that there is a violent political climate affecting the girl’s life: alongside the night table is a stack of newspapers with a headline that reads “Familias de Desaparecidos en 1985” (Families of the Disappeared in 1985), and though we see a photograph of the girl’s father, he is otherwise absent from the book. Buitrago and Yockteng present a beautiful and complex story of courage and hope where there seems to be none. There’s a clear resemblance between the lion and the father, particularly with the lion’s mane and the father’s curly hair. Such a parallel suggests that the young girl remembers her father for his courage, like that of a lion, and that she walks with that courage, giving her hope to continue.

From the May/June 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez

Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez is currently an Assistant Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College. She received her PhD in English from the University of California Riverside. Her research focuses on Latinx children’s and young adult literature. She is a contributing blogger for Latinx in Kid Lit (latinosinkidlit.com)

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