Review of Somos como las nubes / 
We Are like the Clouds

argueta_somos-como-las-nubesstar2 Somos como las nubes / 
We Are like the Clouds
by Jorge Argueta; illus. by 
Alfonso Ruano; trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado
Primary, Intermediate    Groundwood    32 pp.
10/16    978-1-55498-849-5    $18.95
e-book ed.  978-1-55498-850-1    $16.95

Argueta’s bilingual collection of poems gives voice to the many refugee children who emigrate from Central American countries to the United States in search of safety or better lives. The children in these poems speak of the places left behind, their families, their fears, their hopes, and their dreams. Argueta’s poems include whimsical imagery (a smiling river, a dog that can whistle, clouds shaped like whales) but also scary threats (los pintados — “the painted men” — with their hard eyes and snake-tattooed bodies) and the fear of never seeing loved ones again. The poems, written in the first person, present the candid perspective of the children’s experiences: holding tightly to a mother’s hand; singing to scare away tiredness and fear. Delicate illustrations include both realistic portrayals and surreal depictions that complement the textual imagery. Ruano variously employs muted tones and bright colors, depending on the mood of the poems. The translations into English are well crafted; footnotes clarify regional vocabulary or words in both Spanish and English with culture-specific meanings.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Alicia K. Long
Alicia K. Long teaches multicultural materials for children and young adults at the University of South Florida--School of Information. She also presents family literacy and bilingual programs in public libraries, and maintains the young adult collection at the academic library where she works. She is the chair of the 2018 Pura Belpré Award committee.

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