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Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border
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Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  71 reviews
"Mitali Perkins’ story is a perfect introduction for children to how borders separate families, delicately embracing the reunion’s joy and enduring sadness. Sara Palacios’ illustrations cheerfully capture the love among separated families as well as the realities of the border wall. This superb picture book is a holiday story that deserves to be a year-round read." — ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  333 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Jon Nakapalau
Powerful book that looks at this most critical of issues - art is fantastic!
Robbi Caldwell
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: h-books, c-books
Amy Layton
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
Equal parts adorable and idealistic, this book makes for a great tale for helping children understand just how and why families look different in different situations. Take for instance Juan and Maria's family--they live with their mom, but the only time they can visit their grandmother is in half hour increments through a chainlink fence. But when Maria and Juan realize that they can't give their grandmother any gifts, Maria gets creative and constructs a kite to send over their gifts. After ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a family that travels to the U.S./Mexico border during La Posada Sin Fronteras. “The Inn Without Borders” is a one-day celebration in December allowing people on both sides of the San Diego/Tijuana border to get together - sort of - across the fence dividing the two countries. Posada [the word for inn as well as the name of the celebration] is a Mexican tradition re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter before Mary gave birth to Jesus. As the American Friends ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two young children go with their mom to the Mexican border near San Diego to visit with their grandmother, who lives in Mexico. Juan has brought a picture for his grandma, but the border patrol says nothing can be passed through the fence. Juan's sister comes up with a clever solution.
Richie Partington
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
Richie’s Picks: BETWEEN US AND ABUELA: A FAMILY STORY FROM THE BORDER by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios, Farrar Straus Giroux, September 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-374-30373-0

“The Trump administration has sparked outcry in Arizona after video posted on social media showed construction crews tasked with building President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall bulldozing down some of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument’s most ‘iconic’ cacti.”
-- Newsweek (10/7/2019)

“I don’t believe in guarded
Chance Lee
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-it
Stunning illustrations help tell a story about a custom that I was unfamiliar with.
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I'm crying at work now...
This book has excellent illustrations, but what is really captivating is the story and the thought that our countries, Mexico and the United States, might experience the celebration of La Posada Sin Fronteras on a greater scale - as the young protagonist, María, says, "For a moment, the fences are invisible." Her creative way of connecting with her Abuela on the other side of the fence is unique and moving, and a wonderful part of the story is how the Border Patrol agent turns a blind eye and ...more
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story!!
Kay Carman
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the author's note: "Las Posadas is a nine-day festival celebrated throughout Mexico... from December 16 until Dec 24. It is a time to remember the birth of Jesus and how his parents... searched for shelter on the night he was born. Turned away from the inns of Bethlehem, Maria [Mary] gave birth to her baby and laid him in a manger instead.

"Every night during Las Posadas, two people dress up as Maria and Jose [Joseph]. A procession of neighbors holding candles and poinsettias join them to
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks, kidlit
Beautifully written and illustrated story about a mother and her two children in California visiting Abuela through the US-Mexico border wall, and their determination to share a gift with Abuela even though the officers can’t let anything through the fence.

Especially memorable is the line: “Hugging her would feel like hugging a chunk of cookie dough.” We know they are unable to hug, even though this is their first visit in 5 years. We also know from the story’s first sentence that Abuela is
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lovely story, and it introduced me to a tradition I had never heard of: La Posada Sin Fronteras, held every year in San Diego/Tijuana by the American Friends Service Committee: Definitely worth a read, and very useful as a discussion starter with immigration issues a front and center concern for the nation.
Sharon Lawler
The border wall, family separation, and Christmas in one timely picture book.
Ann Chase
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
How sad that there is a need for this beautiful book. On one day during Las Posados (the commemoration of Mary and Joseph looking for a room in Jerusalem) the border patrol allows families in the US to visit across the fence with their Mexican relatives.

Between the fence slats, a brother and sister are able to touch their abuela's hand, but not give her the gift they have brought for her. With some creativity and ingenuity (and compassion on the part of the guards) they manage to get her the
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've loved Mitali Perkin's novels; I was curious to see how she would do with a picture book. She didn't disappoint. What I really appreciated about the book is while it does draw attention to the realities of families separated by borders, at it's heart it is a good story about family and about an ingenious young girl solving a problem. Highly recommended for a younger picture book audience for the great story and for older kids for how it can get them thinking.
Adam Shields
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Summary: A young girl, her brother, and mother visit the San Diego border to celebrate Las Posadas and see their Grandmother through the border fence at Christmas. A great book to spark a conversation.

I read this tonight for the first time with my 5-year-old. I am intentionally filling my kids' library not just with books, but books that will lead to conversations. Between Us and Abuela is a book that is going to take several readings to get through the conversations that it should bring up.

I appreciated so many things about this story -- the main character's resilience and creative resistance against border imperialism, namely. But my struggle is with the sympathetic portrayal of border guards, whose internal culture of dehumanizing indigenous people on their own lands is well-documented. This aspect read to me like other picture books that depict cops as kind-hearted, generous people who just so happen to have a job upholding racist, state-sanctioned violence... at best, it ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Maria, Juan and their mother hadn’t seen Maria’s grandmother in five years. Today they were celebrating Christmas by taking a bus to the border with Mexico for Los Posada Sin Fronteras where families could meet with the border fence between them. Maria had made her grandmother a scarf that her mother was finishing and Juan had drawn a picture for her. When they reach the border, they must stand in line for their turn to see their family. They get their turn and get to see their grandmother and ...more
Laura Salas
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful picture book about celebrating love and family in a tough situation. It doesn't harp on about why are things the way they are and what we need to do to change it (though hopefully those questions will be planted in readers' minds and thought deeply about). It just meets this border situation where it is and finds joy and sharing there.
This timely story about a family's love for one another and one girl's creative problem solving will surely touch many hearts. Maria and her brother Juan live in the United States, and although their mother has told them many stories about their grandmother, they barely remember her since they haven't seen her in five years. For La Posada Sin Fronteras, they have taken a bus to San Diego where they will visit briefly--for 30 minutes--with her and bring her gifts--a scarf knitted by Maria and a ...more
Kris Dersch
I want this for the winter holiday collection! What a fantastic book.
As part of Las Posadas celebrations, there are family reunions at the border in San Diego...but through a fence. Juan and Maria are so glad to see Abuela but they can't get their gifts to her and Juan is so sad. So his big sister turns his creation into a kite to fly it over the fence. Great back matter about the actual celebration at the border, great use of Spanish words with context definition clues and an entirely
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a sweet story about a California family who gets to go see their Abuela in Mexico during La Posada Sin Fronteras. (On one day during the Las Posadas festival, border patrol allows families from the U.S. to enter the enforcement zone so that they can be close to their Mexican family members and celebrate together through the fence. There is some excellent back matter about this tradition.)

The family travels, waits, and finally gets to stand next to Abuela – just on the other side of a
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A young girl, Maria, her little brother, Juan, and her mother make the journey to the border between San Diego and Mexico to see her grandmother for the Christmas holidays named Las Posadas. They cannot go through a second fence, have only 25 minutes to visit through a fence with slats and a wire, then must return back to San Diego. The girl has knitted a scarf for her Abuela to wear on the journey home and her brother has drawn a picture. The visit goes quickly and they discover nothing can go ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A little girl, her younger brother and mother travel to the border to take part in Las Posadas Sin Fronteras and briefly visit the grandmother they haven't seen in five years. The text is clear and easily understandable for young children, explaining this complicated situation as well as possible while making it clear that love transcends physical borders.

Sara Palacios' illustrations are charming and very appealing. Speaking as a grandmother myself, this story was both heartbreaking and
This heartwarming story gives young readers a glimpse of some of the difficulties for families of immigrants who are separated from beloved family members. Maria and her little brother, Juan, are visiting their grandmother at the Mexican border for Las Posadas, a holiday that celebrates Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. They have only a short time to visit, with a fence separating them. It is against the rules to pass gifts through the fence and Juan's drawing is too large to fit through ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book. I found a new holiday to celebrate, La Posada sin Fronteras. “In recent decades, Posadas have increasingly been adapted as advocacy tools for social justice causes, from homelessness (Imperial Beach California), to a celebration of recent laws legalizing street vending (the East Side Development Corporation in Los Angeles), to an annual Posada co-sponsored by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network in Washington, D.C., that includes a moment of silence for migrants in front of the ...more
Dabney Malugani
This is wonderful, and I am so, so glad that I read it. The story is about a girl, her brother, and mother meeting their grandmother at the US-Mexico Border during Las Posadas. I got to learn about this festival celebrated in Mexico, and the really neat event that actually happens at the border during one of the festival days. The illustrations and story are great, and I love how there is a portion in the back explaining Las Posadas and La Posada Sin Fronteras. I wanted to know more after ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A story about a family going to La Posada Sin Fronteras (The Inn Without Borders) to see their grandmother who lives in Mexico. This is an actual event organized by people in Tijuana and San Diego to get families and friends together to celebrate Las Posadas along the border.

Maria and Juan try to take presents to their grandmother, but nothing can be passed through the wall. It is against regulations. So Maria comes up with a clever plan to help get Juan’s picture to his grandmother on the other
This is a heartwarming tale of a family (Mama, Maria and Juan) creatively circumventing the borders of the nation states (the US and Mexico) that keep them separate from their Abuela as they visit her to celebrate La Posada sin Fronteras. While elements of this story felt unrealistic (the border guards who kindly encourage Maria's idea for getting her brother's present across the border), it was nonetheless a tale that managed to be sweet and sympathetic while honestly portraying the effects of ...more
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Mitali Perkins has written many novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award) Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years, film adaptation coming in 2020), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers. She currently writes and resides in the San ...more