Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Caminar” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,306 ratings  ·  256 reviews
Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers lau
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Candlewick Press (first published March 11th 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Caminar, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Philippe You are absolutely right.

It is my pleasure to inform you that Caminar will be published in Spanish (in Guatemala) in the next few months.…more
You are absolutely right.

It is my pleasure to inform you that Caminar will be published in Spanish (in Guatemala) in the next few months.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,306 ratings  ·  256 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Caminar
Survivor’s guilt. Not the most common theme in children’s books these days. Not unheard of certainly, but it definitely doesn’t crop up as often as, say, stories about cupcakes or plucky orphans that have to defeat evil wizards. Serious works of fiction do well when award season comes along, but that’s only because those few that garner recognition are incredibly difficult to write. I’ll confess to you that when I first encountered Caminar by Skila Brown I heard it was about a kid surviving Guat ...more
Stephanie Sanders-Jacob
Spoiler-free summary:
Written entirely in free-verse poetry, Caminar, the debut novel from Skila Brown is the story of Carlos and the remote Guatemalan village he called home. Caught in the midst of the Guatemala’s brutal 36-year civil war, Carlos must learn how to survive after everything he knows is wrenched away from him. Part coming-of-age story, part historical fiction, Caminar offers a lyrical glimpse into rural Guatemala’s troubled past and one boy’s ability to say, “I remember.”


Rich in Color
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, poetry
Review Copy: Hard Copy from Publisher

It's probably not news to you, but April was poetry month. Being a teacher, that means I have been reading a large amount of poetry lately. I also posted a list of novels in verse last month which got me wondering why they appeal to me so much. I’ve heard many readers ask why books are in that format and make comments about how they sometimes don’t even seem like poetry or that they think readers may not understand novels in verse. I am not sure why they work
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
[I read this book at the same time I read Finding Oscar and the review deals with both of them. Apologies if this is confusing.]

Both Finding Oscar and Caminar focus on the decades-long genocide in Guatemala, purportedly anti-Communist and strongly supported by the U.S. government. Both are set in the early 1980s. Both are novella-length. Each centers around a boy who survives the massacre of his village.

Finding Oscar is non-fiction, an extension of what originated as a journalistic investigation
Mar 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I'll say straight off that I was disappointed to find this was a novel in verse, not only because that isn't usually my thing, but because I was looking forward to a really in-depth visit to Guatemala (one of my favorite places). I think that's one of the main frustrations I have with verse novels--you get a lot of what the protagonist is thinking and doing, but not as much about other characters or events or setting. Most of them leave me feeling like I've only read half of a story. Sometimes t ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels-in-verse
Set in 1981 during the Guatemalan Civil War, this novel in verse tells the story of Carlos, a village boy who is thrust into the middle of a war that is not his or his people’s. Told from Carlos’s point of view, the poems range from calm and fluid to racing and intense, simulating Carlos’s experiences and creating an extremely emotional read. Mastery of poetic devices (rhythm, repetitions, arrangement) and vivid language make this reading experience a standout. This one will make you and your st ...more
Destinee Sutton
Reminiscent of All the Broken Pieces and other novels in verse about children experiencing incredibly difficult circumstances (also Never Fall Down, which isn't in verse but I thought of it as I was reading this). The history of Guatemala was somewhat known to me, but a first-person account of a tragedy such as this makes it visceral. I felt strongly for Carlos, his mother and his village. The poetry used not only words but shapes and spaces to convey meaning. ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Set in rural Guatemala, this story relates how a young boy, Carlos, survives the massacre of the people of his village by soldiers while he is in the mountains picking mushrooms for soup. Telling the story in verse from his viewpoint vividly brings out the horror, disbelief, and guilt he feels that he couldn't help his people. I don't know if I could have survived the way he did, sleeping in trees and eating roots and berries. Pair this book with Ben Mikaelsen's Tree Girl, also set in the same t ...more
Cindy Rodriguez
Skila Brown’s debut novel in verse tells the heartbreaking story of Carlos, who is forced from his devastated village and treks up a mountainside to save his grandmother and her neighbors from a similar fate.

One thing that struck me most was Brown’s ability to create a touching coming-of-age narrative set in such tragic events. The novel is not graphic, although the topic is brutal. And while it is a civil war, fueled by politics, Brown does not support or condemn any side. Instead, more than an
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it

In the beginning of the book I didn't liked the Note to the Reader, because that was like a light way to resume what happened, but after I finished reading the book and I read it again, I liked it a little bit.

I think that the abstract of this story wasn't what I saw, it is much more than that. Maybe that abstract will make others dislike it at first impression. But when opening the book, that abstract would be erased from their minds.

The book for me was mind-blowing, I enjoyed every poem li
Phil Jensen
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Under-read, under appreciated, and under discussed, Caminar describes the changes in a young boy's life during the Guatemalan civil war. Given the number of Guatemalan immigrants in the United States, the topic is necessary, and this book should be in classrooms. The subject matter is honest but not grisly, and the text level is solidly middle grade, which is to say about 5th or 6th.

Skila Brown's poetry style deserves special praise. Lazy writers create narrative poetry by writing sentences and
Josephine Sorrell
Jun 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-2015
Caminar means "to walk" which is what Carls does through the mountains os Guatemala. Set in 1981 Guatemala, this novel is written entirely in free verse. Carlos is knows that Communist rebels will soon come to their village and that when they arrive, he will need to be a man and help defend the village. His mother always says "not yet" because he is still a boy. The rebels do arrive and Mama tells Carols to run and hide in the forest and then find her later. Carols obeys and later learns his vil ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This poetry book was very good! I liked how it brought in elements from the actual fighting going on in Guatemala from 1960-1996. This topic needs more light shined on it because I was unaware that this even happened until I read this book! 200,000 innocent people lost their lives and I couldn't even comprehend that 15 people died every day adding up to 5,555 per year. This book was overall a great read and a great choice for our 8th grade poetry unit! I cannot believe I finished it in one day! ...more
Sarah Nelson
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
A novel in poems, set in Guatemala in the 1980's.

Carlos is a happy boy, living a peaceful life in a close-knit mountain village. But when the military attacks his defenseless community, Carlos must flee. Caminar is his long walk through the forest, evading dangers and traveling toward his abuela who lives on the mountaintop.

A sad story, but one that makes some complicated (and often forgotten) American history accessible and personal. I like the short chapters in verse and the skilled use of Spa
Edward Sullivan
A compelling historical novel exploring violence and loss set during the Guatemalan Civil War in 1981 and told in free verse from the perspective of a young indigenous boy. See also Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen (Harper, 2004).
Johanna Maple
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book written in verse by an Indiana author. Pulled me in from the first page.
Robert Kent
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've read Caminar twice now. It is haunting and beautiful and will get you right in the feels. One advantage of a free verse novel is it can be read quickly, even by middle grade standards, so I was able to read it once for comprehension, and once for appreciation. Part of me is excited to see a subject as serious as this can be presented in a middle grade book, and the other part hates to label Caminar as middle grade lest some readers view it as just a book for kids. This is a book of serious ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a novel in free verse that tells the story of Carlos, a boy in Guatemala whose village is attacked by soldiers in 1981. This is a story that has multiple layers--growing up, despair, fear, bravery. What I especially liked about this book was that it shows a wide range of poetic elements such as onomatopoeia, similes, anaphora, and even two-voices.
Ms Finley Reads
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, I thought I knew a bit about South American history, but obviously I did not since I wasn’t aware of the civil war or military coup in Guatemala. I loved how Brown ends this novel with the protagonist finding his way and how the story finishes.
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book caminar is a good book cause it gives vivid pictures of what is going on like the helicopters are flying around us smoking or the person who climbed the tree and curled up in the leaves to try to stop the sound of the helicopters they show that they could get stories into the readers head as they did to mine this is why I rated it so high
Rebecca Plaza
A thoughtful treatment of an obscure but dramatic time in the 1980s proxy wars throughout Central America. A verse approach allows the reader to bond with the main character, Carlos as his village is visited by the army and armed rebels deep in the mountains of Guatemala. Will be chosen because of the approachable format and read for the story!
Lindsay Shockey
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Such a quick and inspiring read!
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this book aloud for school. We all gave this book 4 stars. MD liked the story told in poetry form. CN liked it, but felt like he didn’t connect with it like he has other books. MK liked that is was poetry and that the shape or style of the poem changed with each poem. I also enjoyed the poetry. It was an interesting way to read a story.
Tara Piña
Jul 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-like, 2021
A little slow beginning but then it picked up, I loved the nahuales animal spirit aspect
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I visited Guatemala was as an adult, which was the first time I learned or even remember hearing about the civil war and Mayan genocide that occurred during my lifetime. The second visit I made was to small Mayan village in the mountains (Chajul) where I learned more about the devastation faced by indigenous Mayan communities. I have been looking for a middle grade book to introduce this historical event to the students in my school and I think this is a perfect introduction. Cami ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Carlos is a lovable and innocent boy who lives in a village at the bottom of a mountain. Like most tweens and teens, he wants to grow up and know what it is like to be a man. As an only child with no father, he lives with his sweet mother who makes sure everyone who is hungry is fed. He has fun friends to play with, an aunt who is about to have a baby, and a grandma who lives in a village up high in the mountain above. Their town even has the stereotypical an old man who likes to feel wise and t ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CAMINAR by Skila Brown tells the story of young Carlos in 1981 Guatemala. While the story is fictional, it is based on historical facts. In the early 1980s, Guatemalan people experienced horrific acts of violence that were later called “The Guatemalan Genocide” or “Silent Holocaust.”

CAMINAR is a middle grade book of verse. I’ve read a few books in verse, and CAMINAR reads more like a poetry collection than the others I’ve read. The topics are more internal and abstract and less action, story-dri
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a moving story told through free verse; it was very accessible and evocative. Even without knowing a lot about the wider context, it paints a clear picture of the awful events many people experienced in Guatemala. Brown gives just enough description of the characters and settings to allow you to visualize what's happening without giving extensive description. I was wiping away tears by the end. ...more
Tess Upchurch
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Caminar is a powerful look into a conflict that I previously had no knowlege of. When thinking of the Latin American political wars of the late 20th century, the American mind tends to generalize, focusing only on the big names and huge statistics. However, this book provides a look into the personal effects of the Guatemalan guerrilla war on Carlos, a boy trying to become a man while being torn between fighting with the rebels and protecting his culture and the village of Patrichál. The verse i ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
IRP #3 (Military) 1 1 Dec 05, 2017 12:06PM  
Skila Brown, the author 3 6 Jul 22, 2017 02:57PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Garvey's Choice
  • The Red Pencil
  • Full Cicada Moon
  • All the Broken Pieces
  • The Canyon's Edge
  • House Arrest (House Arrest, #1)
  • Forget Me Not
  • A Time to Dance
  • Other Words for Home
  • Unbound: A Novel in Verse
  • The One Thing You'd Save
  • Under the Broken Sky
  • Efrén Divided
  • Finding Junie Kim
  • Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings
  • Beetle & the Hollowbones
  • Red, White, and Whole
  • The Last to Let Go
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Skila Brown is the author of verse novels Caminar and To Stay Alive, as well as the picture book Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks, all with Candlewick Press. She received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee and now lives in Indiana where she writes books for readers of all ages.

Related Articles

This June, as we observe LGBTQ Pride—the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning communities—we...
211 likes · 72 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“When you open the door to hate, you will find/ it swallows you whole/ and there is no/ life left inside.” 6 likes
“Forest sounds/ all around/ but on the ground/ the sound/ of Me/ grew. Echoed,/ I heard a path I could not see.” 1 likes
More quotes…