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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 ·  212 ratings  ·  44 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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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
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!!
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
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.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read an advance copy of this book in preparation for the Harbor Springs Festival of the Book 2019.

Perkins’ story is a heartwarming fictional account of one family’s gathering along the border wall between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California for the La Posada Sin Fronteras celebration. Palacios’ cheerful illustrations show the infectious resilience and positivity of youth. Through the collective efforts of people on both sides of the wall, including the border patrol, this story is a
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
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of meeting Mitali Perkins at a conference and hearing her talk about this story, which was just in previews at the time, made me want to read it so badly! It's a beautiful story about a family separated by the border wall who want nothing more than to celebrate Christmas together. I loved the story and the charming pictures. It's a bit long for a story time but I would absolutely recommend it for parents to read to their children.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful story that does touch on the subject of immigration and separation, but mostly focuses on the love of a family that unites an entire group of strangers in a common cause. Based around true events and holidays, this book is informative not only of different cultural and religious holidays, but also about the power of familial love. Definitely recommend and can't wait to read more from this author!
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Special story for the Christmas holidays, specifically Las Posadas. It highlights the challenges of families divided by a border fence coming together to reconnect. This book also includes information on La Posada Sin Fronteras (The In Without Borders), a border celebration between Mexico & the United States.
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.
A sweet family story slashed through with the reality of a border wall. Mom and kids on one side, Abuela on the other, they are able to chat briefly, but there is no opportunity to exchange gifts. A story about the real repercussions of a border wall, a Christmas story in the context of reality.

A handful of Spanish words sprinkled throughout.
Sara L. L.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Between Us and Abuela is a powerful picture book! It has unique illustrations. This picture book not only teaches about cultural traditions, las posadas, but it also teaches a sad reality that a lot of immigrates in the U.S. face, not able to cross the border to get together with their families during special/important moments. This book can bring a lot of good discussions in the classroom.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story was kind of a bummer, and the illustrations could have been better. was a very good book explaining the barrier between not only two countries, but also the members of a family due to the physical fence separating them. The book brings to light (and explains it well) a serious issue.
A family travels to Friendship Park in San Diego and their grandmother to Playas de Tijuana to celebrate Las Posadas. Angelita must find a way to give Abuela Juan's gift of a drawing, but no items are allowed to pass through the fence at the border. Ingenuity is the answer to the issue.
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book tells the story of the border fence in San Diego where people can spend limited amount of time speaking to family members. It is sad and heartbreaking and real, but gives a nice ending. I cried.
A young girl and her family meet their grandmother at the border for a celebration but time is cut short before they can exchange presents.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Tender look at a family on both sides of the Mexican/US border. They are allowed to talk through the fences at one special time each year - Las Posadas.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book this is. A sweet and above all thought-provoking Christmas story.
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Mitali Perkins has written twelve 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