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Undocumented: A Worker's Fight

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  379 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Undocumented is the story of immigrant workers who have come to the United States without papers. Every day, these men and women join the work force and contribute positively to society. The story is told via the ancient Mixtec codex—accordion fold—format. Juan grew up in Mexico working in the fields to help provide for his family. Struggling for money, Juan crosses over i ...more
Hardcover, 15 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Harry N. Abrams
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Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Visually stunning and incredibly powerful! Truly a must-purchase.

I'm sure librarians everywhere will cringe a bit about the vulnerable accordion-fold design interpreting the Mixtec codices but Abrams has done an outstanding job of making it as sturdy as possible.
Gary Anderson
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“You don’t know our names but you’ve seen us.” So begins Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight, Duncan Tonatiuh’s important new book exploring what it means these days to be an undocumented worker in America.

After his father’s death, Juan is smuggled across the border as a minor and travels to “a strange city” to live with relatives where police harassment and poverty are parts of his daily existence. When Juan is later hired to work in a restaurant, his boss says he is doing him a favor because Juan i
Ben Truong
Undocumented: A Worker's Fight is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, which follows the plight of undocumented workers.

The text is rather simplistic and straightforward. Tonatiuh's lean and elegant fable plots a memorable map of one man's immigration experience in an accordion fold manner. The illustrations are inspired by the styles of native Mesoamericans, are bound in a folded codex which also harkens to the author's and protagonist’s Indigenous Mexican roots
This eye-opening look at undocumented workers and the challenges they face needs to be read by everyone. The opening line is just stunningly accurate: "You don't know our names but you've seen us" (unpaged). This is so true of almost all of us, taking for granted the labor of others and often even benefiting financially from what they do. Not only does the book explain some of the reasons someone like Juan, the main character in this graphic novel might want to cross the border from Mexico to th ...more
Thomas Ray
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: detailed-reviews
23 pages. An estimated 5% of the U.S. workforce is unauthorized. A much higher fraction of the workforce works for less than a decent living wage. Wage theft and denial of workers' rights are rampant in the U.S. Unauthorized workers have no defense; authorized workers have little power enough. Workers' rights centers try to help workers fight the abuses. Occasionally they win one.

no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers ha
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I feel so bad giving this beautifully artistically constructed title 4 stars, but it is not meant to be handled by children. It will be torn and of little use due to its accordian style format. The content is exquisite. The artwork is excellent. Starting off with "you don't know me but you've seen me" is a direct allusion to the silent facelessness of the undocumented workers in this country that work in the fields, factories, restuarants, as yardmen, and numerous other menial positions they wor ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved the unique folding design of this book, the striking illustration, the unsentimental-yet-compassionate point of view. This was a GREAT companion to The Faraway Brothers, a book I read last year about the same sort of struggles and issues of undocumented workers.
I'd like to see both books in our libraries, and I will be donating this one to mine.
The Goodreads giveaway program has broadened my world in so many ways....books I probably wouldn't have picked up or topics I never would've ap
Edward Sullivan
This powerful story, told in a book designed in the accordion fold format of the ancient Mixtec codex, centers on Juan who crosses over from Mexico into the United States to find work and becomes an undocumented worker, living in a poor neighborhood, struggling to survive. Severely undercompensated working as a busboy, he receives less than half of the minimum wage. Risking his employer reporting him to the authorities for not having proper papers, Juan risks everything standing up for himself a ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This graphic novella comes in a box. I didn’t understand why until I pulled it out. When you do, you discover the book unfolds like a scroll, and continues all along one side and then along the reverse side.

It begins:

“You don’t know our names but you’ve seen us. In this country we build houses, we harvest crops, we cook, we clean, and we raise children. Some people want to kick us out and some act like we don’t exist, but we are here, compañeros. We may not have documents, but we all have a sto
Lin Lin
A timely book to help young readers understand the current issue of migrant workers and undocumented immigrant. The author shares an uplifting story of Juan, one of the millions of migrant workers in construction, agriculture, and service industries in the United States, and how he joined other workers to fight for minimum wages and better working conditions as undocumented workers. The migrant workers' contributions to our economy are too easily ignored that few of us realize that the U.S. econ ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This children’s book is readable in a short half-hour and it pulls no punches in taking on the issue of advocacy and support for undocumented immigrants. As usual, Tonatiuh’s illustration artistry is stunning and beautiful, and the physical design of the book to read in the style of the ancient Mesoamerican codices format is a really nice touch. If you want your children to have a good exposure to the unvarnished reality of the difficulties on undocumented workers and their resistance to exploit ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So much to process, pore over, and discuss in this short but powerful text. Tonatiuh makes a point to include intersectional concerns, including how the problems related to being undocumented, an IPOC, and working poor are made worse for women. His illustrations never fail to blow me away, as there is so much to examine. I liked the review that stated how the accordion-style is sort of a nightmare for libraries, but it's done well and is just really stunning. This could be used for many ages, fr ...more
Cheriee Weichel
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a book that needs to be shared again and again with people of all ages. It tells the story of one undocumented worker in the United States and introduces readers to others. The author's note at the end provides additional information.
I worry about the accordion fold format of the book. Published in the ancient Mixtec codex that represents this worker, I fear for it's durability in a school library.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to come.
Heather McC
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The plight of the undocumented worker - including their struggle to receive fair compensation - is covered in graphic format by Duncan Tonatiuh, who wrote the equally essential 'Separate is Never Equal'.
Rich Farrell
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m a huge fan of Tonatiuh’s work, and this one may be the best one I’ve read yet. His artwork and storytelling is unique, and this one packs a powerful message for current times to match some of his other works that honor struggles of the past. I like that he’s becoming increasingly political and look forward to his future books.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Told in a two-sided accordion-fold format, this follows a documented worker's struggle for rights and the challenges one faces as an undocumented person. I would recommend for upper elementary and up.
Bang Learnedly
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2019
I recommend seeing if you can borrow this book if you're interested, it's short to a fault. It took about 15 minutes to read, making it feel much closer to a portable museum exhibit than a novel.

Obviously a story of that length is not going to dive too deeply into the plight of undocumented workers. It's hard to imagine anyone learning anything by reading "Undocumented." Art isn't obligated to be educational, but I wonder what I'm supposed to take away from this. I know that undocumented worker
Leigh Anne
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
You can't scare them. They're sticking with the union.

At the intersection of undocumented persons and labor rights sits our hero, Juan. Having made it to America with great difficulty, Juan works various jobs to make money for his family back in Mexico. While working at a restaurant, Juan is introduced to the concept of workers' rights and unions by a spirited co-worker who shows him how their boss, while pleasant enough, is also taking serious advantage of Juan and the other workers. Juan learn
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Undocumented : A Worker's Fight by Duncan Tonatiuh, PICTURE BOOK Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2018 $19.99. 1419728547



Juan tells his story as a undocumented immigrant, from crossing the border to finding work and eventually working with a worker's center to improve conditions for others.

I didn't like the accordian-fold design - as a librarian, this is problematic. However, I loved the topic, the text and the sub
Sandy Brehl
This remarkably designed and executed book defies categorization. Tonatiuh's signature art style is put to good use in a work designed with a slipcase holding an unbound pull out banner. That unfolds to share the history of Mexican immigration told through a first-person-ification narrative that allows readers to see history as an immediate experience. It is possible to hold it carefully as a physical "book" and turn pages, but it works more effectively by expanding into a banner layout then rev ...more
Ryan Garcia
This story is about a young man name Juan who travels over the Mexican/U.S. border to live with his uncle. Juan works many different jobs until he finds himself a steady job working in a restaurant. One night, Juan met with co-worker to discuss the unfair treatment that they were receiving from their boss. Sure, they were undocumented, but does that mean they should be treated unfairly? Juan and his co-workers take legal action against their boss and protest in the streets for equality. Time pas ...more
Margaret Boling
3/23/2018 ~ Compelling and Stunning! A nonfiction picture book (in the format of a Mayan codex) that examines the life of an undocumented worker from a Mayan village in Mexico who made the perilous journey to an unnamed, large city in the U.S. Upon arrival, he's exploited and struggles to pay his bills. Ultimately, he joins a workers' rights group to try to get more humane wages & working conditions.

While my public library has this cataloged as a teen book, there is nothing in it that an upper e
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, children
This is an amazing fold out graphic book about the plight of the undocumented worker in United States. First the dangerous journey to the border and crossing it. Then finding a place to stay and looking for a job. The only ones available are for extremely low wages and long hours. The story is based on the author's own struggle. The author also tells of what he did to help improve the almost slave like wages. The drawings are exceptional and help produce empathy in the reader.

I received a finish
Yes - Another incredible book by Duncan Tonatiuh! This foldout picture book tells the story of one undocumented worker's journey to fight for fair wages and safe working conditions. If you have students in grades 4-6 in social issue book clubs, this is a text to add to your collection. Some students might be surprised to learn about the many people in our country who work under unfair labor conditions.

Don't miss Duncan's author's note. Readers will learn about Duncan's volunteer work at the Nati
Enlightening book about a man who is forced to migrate to the United States for work. He is from Mexico and Mestizo so isn't fluent in Spanish or English. He learns the languages and marries another migrant. The restaurant owner where he works pays them less than minimum wage and threatens him with a loss of a job if he challenges him. Gradually through a union organizer, he complains in court about his pay. This book is about that fight and how other workers can challenge the system too. It was ...more
Love love love. Duncan Tonatiuh is still my favorite. His scripts are always beautiful - the text in Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Méndez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation gives me goosebumps every time I revisit it. This story is simply told, but the artwork is amazing. The fold-out format is clever also. Can't wait to see what he does next. ...more
Powerful illustrations and spare text pack a wallop in this picture book/ graphic nonfiction hybrid. Geared toward teens and adults, this is a quick read, but don’t skim through too fast, because the details in the illustrations are phenomenal. The fold-out construction isn’t the most practical for heavy circulation in libraries, but sometimes practicality has to take a back seat to artistry, and this is one of those times.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. This is a book aimed toward the juvenile / elementary audience. It tells the story of Juan and his experience being an undocumented worker. The illustration is very original and the style of the book is also original and interesting. This is a very easy read and the book comes in its case which I loved as well. Definitely recommend for young kids (7+) teens and adults.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this wonderful modern codex in the graphic novel section of the library. It comes in a an attractive slip case. The book inside is printed in the accordion style of the Mixtec codexes from preColumbian times. The simple and colorful illustrations by the author combine indigenous motifs in modern day situations to tell the story of Juan a young undocumented man working with others to improve the pay and working conditions of marginalized and documented workers.
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I was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I received my BFA from Parsons School of Design and my BA from Eugene Lang College, both of them divisions of the New School University in New York City.

My first picture book "Dear Primo, a letter to my cousin" is published by H N Abrams and will be in stores March 1st, 2010.

My illustrations of the AH1N1 in Mexico were selecte

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