Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) is a fútbol obsessed Argentine-American. She’s the mother of 5 kids and 2 adorable dogs. Yamile’s an inaugural Walter Dean Meyers Grant recipient, a graduate of Voices of our Nation (VONA) and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Writing for Children program. She’s represented by Linda Camacho, from the Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency.
As a POC, I have been asked the question “Where are you from?” more times than I can count. Answer this question with “Toronto, Canada” usually results in the follow up question, “Where are you REALLY from?” as if I couldn’t actually really be born and raised, and from the city that I answered. If I am persistent in my answer, they then ask “Where are your parents from?” Every single one of these questions is a microagresssion - a way to make me feel like an other, that I do not belong in the place I call my own.
To have a story then with that question in the title, and a very wise abuelo who answers this question in conversation with his granddaughter, I found a beautiful response. A healing and balm as I wish that I had when I was growing up. This is a beautiful story and one that made me tear up and cry a little bit for all of us who have ever had to answer these questions.
When classmates and acquaintances persistently ask her where she is from, refusing to accept her answer that she is from here, a young girl turns to her Abuelo (grandfather) for answers in this lovely new picture-book from author Yamile Saied Méndez and illustrator Jaime Kim. His poetic answers allude to the young girl's Argentine and (possible) Puerto Rican heritage, but when she persists in her question, he replies that she is from his heart, and from the heart of all her ancestors...
A picture-book debut from Méndez, Where Are You From? highlights the unfortunate fact that some American citizens face rather insensitive questions about their heritage, questions that imply that somehow they (the ones being questioned) are less American than others. I appreciated the wisdom of Abuelo's replies, but I also appreciated the fact that the young girl here continues to question, in the face of those replies. Curiosity is natural, and much like her own interrogators, the girl wants definite answers. I'm not sure that parallel was one the author intended to highlight, but I thought it was interesting nevertheless. It's clear from various references - mention of the pampas and the condor in the text, a memorial to the May Revolution in the artwork - that the girl is part Argentine. Given that Méndez is married to a Puerto Rican, I would assume that the references here to a Caribbean island indicate that the girl is also of that heritage. This makes me think that perhaps the girl is one of the author's own children, and that perhaps this story reflects an experience she had?
Whatever the case may be, Where Are You From? is a lovely book, one which offers affirmation to children who may have confronted this kind of experience. It highlights the idea that while it's important to know where we come from, from a cultural heritage perspective, it is just as important to know that our families love us. The artwork from Jaime Kim, who also worked on Kate DiCamillo's La La La: A Story of Hope, is beautiful, boasting a deep and vibrant color palette and cute, stylized figures. Recommended to children who may have confronted this kind of questioning, or to anyone looking for children's stories exploring identity and heritage.
Where are you from? This is a question many of our multicultural children are asked everyday. This is a question that sometimes makes one feel as if you don't belong here or there. In the book, a little girl is constantly asked this question. When she presents it to her abuelo, he enlightens her with a plethora of scenarios and situations that encompass where she is from. Most importantly, the girl learns that she is from the heart of those before her, and that the answer to this question is not a one word response, yet a colorful celebration of life.
This book was recommended to me by my aunt, who like the author, is from Argentina. She said that it would be a nice book to read my daughter who is growing up multicultural and will most likely have to attempt to answer this question of "where she is from" at one time or another. Since I'm Argentine and her mother is Mexican, my daughter, like many children around the world, need to understand that there are many layers to our identity and that the cultures and spirits of our ancestors live in us through our DNA but also from the experiences that came before.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its relatability and powerful message. It could be used in a unit about identity or multiculturalism.
The question "Where are you from?" is often asked to newcomers as a way to be conversational. But it can also be a subtle, and maybe even unconscious, way of trying to place the newcomer in a box or separate them from us as "other" or "different". With friends and neighbors that come into our communities from places near and far, it's never been more important to realize that in order to build relationship we need to consider where we're from in ways that unite us, rather than paint us as different from each other. The grandfather/abuelo in this story has a beautiful answer to this question. Illustrated with beautiful digital paintings, this story tells us where we're all from. This would be a terrific book to share with young readers as the beginning of the school year to help build unity in classrooms.
i randomly decided to pick this book up just because i really love yamile’s writing in furia and i just wanted to check out her picture books to read to the kid i tutor. and i kid you not i cried. this was so beautiful, from the illustrations to yamile’s writing. stories like these are the ones i wish i had when i was a kid.
there’s this one quote that made me so emotional.
“from this land where our ancestors built a home for all, even when they were in chains because the color of their skin”
Beautiful in words and illustrations. Back matter to explain a few of Abuelo’s references (“Señor Cielo,” the pampas, the gaucho) would be wonderful, although having my Latinx students share their knowledge around these words could be awesome, too!
Where Are You From? is a beautiful and lyrical answer to such a simple question that multiracial hear every day. The book starts with the question and provides answer after answer for where the little girl is from. In the end, she decides she is from all of those places as well. I especially loved how Abuelo was involved. Grandpas really do know everything.
Age: Preschool-3rd grade Our Voices: Argentinian American author (1st gen), Korean American illustrator (1st gen)
In several scenarios, a little girl finds it difficult to answer the probing question "where are you from?" especially since it makes her feel like she doesn't belong. Asking the man that knows it all, Abuelo provides a multifaceted answer, drawing from various natural settings that spread across South America--especially Argentina--and the people that settled them. The girl, mirroring the insistence of her friends, asks for a more straight-forward answer--an actual location--and Abuelo points to his heart.
A short story perfect for reading aloud to a class or sharing with a family member. At first, I thought this book could benefit from more text and a longer story. But the brevity of Abuelo's answer makes the story accessible to a wider aged audience and allows the audience to indulge in the rich text used to describe the girl's genealogy.
One final thought: the reader should invite the listeners (especially those that have never experienced this question) to talk about the appearance of the questioners. Even though they smile and the question isn't malicious, how does it affect the girl?
I love the point this book is making. It seems people only question the answer to the "Where are you from?" question to people with brown skin. The one word answer of "Here" isn't good enough when the person REALLY wants to know why your skin is a darker shade than theirs. So when this little girl runs into kids who are unsatisfied with her answer, she turns to her abuelo. The answers he gives are poetic and ambiguous, which is fantastic for people who are just nosy. But since the little girl was asking about herself, I wish his answer to her would have been more straightforward. She deserves to know her heritage if she is curious about it. Gorgeous illustrations with beautiful light.
Oh, what a beautiful book. A young girl of color gets asked by classmates and adults, "where are you from?" What a confusing question to ask a young child and full of insinuations. However, the young girl has an amazing grandfather that tells her of all the beautiful places her ancestors come from but ends with a beautiful idea that really captures the love for a child.
So often when a white person asks a person of color where they are from, there is an assumption of not being from around here. It’s often a microaggression. In this story, a little girl is asked by kids and adults alike where she is from, so when she asks her abuelo where they are from, she gets a surprising answer.
Pair this text with George Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From.”
Books and stories like these are going to play an important role in my son's life. Children need to see people who represent them in tv, books, and movies. I also feel that my son needs to know where he or his dad came from. He will be able to read my stories but others' will help too.
As I read Where are you From by Yamile Saied Mendez, it exceeded my expectations and has become a WOW book and one of my favorite books in the contemporary realistic fiction genre. It allows readers to feel the raw emotions of what a person has to go through after being questioned about where they are from just because they look different and how they begin to question their identity.
Where are you from is an award-winning book as it won the silver medal for the Best Spanish Language Picture book award. The Spanish Language Affiliate of the Children’s Book Committee honors books that are published or translated into Spanish in the past two years.
In this book, a girl repeatedly gets asked the question, "Where are you From." Although she answers, her peers, teachers, and her friend's parents continue to ask. She begins to question her identity and leans on her Abuelo for an answer. Throughout the book, Abuelo reassures her by explaining how her beauty comes from her family and the places they came from.
Overall, there are many themes and messages that this book is portraying, but the one I thought best fit with the story was self-acceptance. This is shown through the growth the main character made as she realized the importance of where she and her family are from and how she found her identity with the help of her Abuelo. She found who she was with the love, guidance and support of her Abuelo.
Yamile Saied Mendez did an excellent job of telling the story not only with words but with the usage of images. The images allowed me as a reader to feel for the story and empathize with those who are going through a constant battle and struggling to find themselves. The pictures told their own story but also didn't take away from the words. Her use of writing craft was also one of the reasons why I loved this book so much as she had Abuelo compare their beauty with nature, which could allow readers to relate as well.
This book is free of anti-bias as it teaches children and other readers that there is beauty within each of us and shows the significance of this specific culture and the understanding and importance of different cultures. I would use this book in the classroom to inform students of our differences and how that is okay and normal. Sharing that with students at a young age will help those with different skin tones, eye shapes, hair colors, etc, that they shouldn't be ashamed or embarrassed by these features, but instead love and embrace them.
When people keep asking a young girl where she's from, and where her mom or dad is from, she tells them all she's from today, like everyone else. When they still aren't satisfied with her answer, she turns to the person whom she believes knows everything - her Abuelo. Going for a walk together, he tells her she is from the Pampas, a region in Argentina. Where she descends "from the gaucho, brave and strong," where there is a cleansing river, that feeds the land, which feeds the people. And she is from Puerto Rico, the land of warm blue oceans, and palm trees, a land "where our ancestors built a home for all, even when they were in chains because of the color of their skin." As her Abuelo answers his granddaughters question, they walk through beautiful two page watercolor spreads of the different landscapes for the places he is telling her about. Told in lyrical prose, this is a loving paean to one child's different cultural roots and "the love of all those before us, from those who dreamt of you because of a song sung under the Southern Cross or the words in a book written under the light of the North Star...You are from all of us." This is just such a beautiful book on understanding the connection between identity and heritage. A perfect book for Americans, almost of all whom come from somewhere else.
Where are you from? is an amazing #ownvoices book about a young girl who gets asked the "simple" where are you from question that to some might not always be simple to answer. She is confused when her "I'm from here" response isn't accepted by people. This young girl decides to ask her abuelo (grandfather) because she believes he knows everything and just like her he looks like he doesn't belong. Her grandfathers response is what makes this book so powerful!
As a latina this book resonates with me because I've been asked this "simple" question often and once they hear my response I get replies such as "but I thought you were from..." or "you don't look like you're from there". I also love how this book addresses the question thoughtfully not only in the words but the illustrations. This is a great book to have at home or in the classroom because it allows children to understand and appreciate themselves and their culture.
This book doesn't have too many words, but it prints a very vivid and moving story. A native American girl was asked where she really comes from. The nonbelonging feeling came to her heart and she asked Abuelo for help. Abuelo didn't directly ask her questions but used beautiful words and pretty characteristics to describe her and also her family- American Indian. What Abuleo said avoid the implicit discrimination against them- because all the "where are you from" means "you should not belong here". He used an inclusive method to protect the girl's heart and the culture she belongs. That's really moved me,
This story is wonderful to read to children and open the eyes of students about their own life. Teaching many different facets of education and understanding of different cultures. This story could be used in a social studies class or reading classroom setting. The issue of students wanting to know where the girl in the story is from, and her going to her grandfather for help is wonderful. After reading this story students could be asked to write about where they are from. Students could also be asked to talk with their family members and get detailed information about their own story of where they re from. Students becoming interested in their own personal story and sharing with the class would help with them learning and understanding more about themselves, as well as wanting to know more about others and caring about their story too. Opening students eyes to the world and lives of others is very important.
Such a lovely, beautifully written answer to the much asked and much hated question “Where are you from?” Kim’s illustrations invoked a dreamy and timeless air that, paired with Méndez’s heartfelt, earnest words, answered the question perfectly by invoking roots, family, history, and love. While it might not register too well with kids under 5, it’s sure to be emotional for parents and caregivers and to be something treasured in later childhood, especially in the current state of the world.