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Maximiliano Córdoba loves stories, especially the legend Buelo tells him about a mythical gatekeeper who can guide brave travelers on a journey into tomorrow.

If Max could see tomorrow, he would know if he'd make Santa Maria's celebrated fútbol team and whether he'd ever meet his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby. He longs to know more about her, but Papá won't talk. So when Max uncovers a buried family secret--involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety--he decides to seek answers on his own.

With a treasured compass, a mysterious stone rubbing, and Buelo's legend as his only guides, he sets out on a perilous quest to discover if he is true of heart and what the future holds.

247 pages, Hardcover

First published March 3, 2020

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About the author

Pam Muñoz Ryan

93 books1,449 followers
Pam Muñoz Ryan is the author of the New York Times Best Seller, ECHO, a 2016 Newbery Honor Book, and winner of the Kirkus Prize. She has written over forty books for young people—picture books, early readers, and middle grade and young adult novels. She the author recipient of the NEA's Human and Civil Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, the Willa Cather Award, the Pura Belpré medal, the PEN USA award, and many others. Her novels include Esperanza Rising, Riding Freedom, Becoming Naomi León, Paint the Wind, The Dreamer, and Echo. She was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, holds a bachelor's and master's degree from San Diego State University and lives in north San Diego county with her family.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 463 reviews
Profile Image for Katie Hanna.
Author 6 books107 followers
June 15, 2020

I don't know what I expected from this short, simple little middle grade book, but iT WASN'T BEING UTTERLY DESTROYED FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

Mañanaland is an allegory for the plight of migrants in today's world, particularly Hispanic migrants in the Americas. Set in the fictional country of Santa Maria, next door to the cruel dictatorship of Abismo (which literally means "Hell": I told you, this is an allegory), it weaves a tale of ordinary people who defy the laws of their own nation to give safe passage to their brothers and sisters in need. The citizens of Santa Maria think they're the good guys; but Santa Maria has *aHEM* closed its gates to refugees, and many will even turn them over to the police for reward money or *AHEM* misguided civic duty. *end Pointed Coughing Fit*

Young Max Cordoba is only twelve years old, but even he knows this must be wrong. When the time comes, will he have the courage to step up and help the "Hidden Ones"? Will he have what it takes to bring them safely to Mañanaland?

"Solo mañana sabe." "Only tomorrow knows the answer."

Like all Pam Munoz Ryan's books, Mañanaland is full of lush description, loving detail, and heartbreaking nuance, all through the eyes of a child. I cried. I admit it. I wish I could read it all over again, and soak up the beauty for the first time.

Put it on your TBR, guys. Just do it. Thank me later.

Profile Image for Cande.
1,030 reviews180 followers
January 7, 2021
"He hoped it all came to pass-sunshine, blue skies, flowers and fruit trees, waterfalls and rainbows. A different tomorrow, one without fear and filled with kindness, safety, and hope."

Maximiliano Córdova belongs in my messy kids with big hearts club. You see, Max wishes to be a fútbol (soccer) star, it runs in his family. But new rules about the team makes Max's plans for the summer go awry. He is disappointed and frustrated, sad that his friendship is changing. When the opportunity to follow his Buelo's stories to find Mañanaland come knocking at this door, he takes it. He doesn't understand that this journey is not an adventure. And he quickly learns that his family's legacy is much more than athletic stars.

My heart was filled with joy for Max, for his ambitious dreams and bravery, for his fierce love. He's so compassionate and caring, and he makes such honest connections with the other characters. It's impossible not to admire him when as a child, he understands better than adults to respect other's people's choices. Even when these choices hurt him.

He's making a dangerous journey, following his Buelo's story, because he doesn't fully grasp what it means to be afraid for your own life, to wish for a better future, to risk everything for that chance. He learns so much, in such a short period of time (this book is quite short), but it didn't feel rush or underdeveloped. Pam Muñoz Ryan clearly understands her characters, understands the way children are forced to grow up and she shows it in such an endearing way.

In the end, Max comes to realize that his family true legacy is their love for the community.

This is something I love from Mañanaland, the way it depicts refugees, immigration, and the community. Without losing sight of her audience, the author gives us such an honest look at the dangers of crossing borders, the personal stories of these refugees, and the value of a community that stands up to care for the most vulnerable. There's a moment where the book talks about the stories lost forever and the way people try to leave their mark, in any way they can, so their memories stay, that just broke my heart. It says so much about the loss of so many lives at the hands of cruel governments and made-up borders.

This book never names countries or communities, the only town we know is Santa Maria, but of course, it's not hard to draw parallels to the stories of immigration to the US. This is why I believe this is one of the most powerful books that I have read: it takes such care to humanized these stories of immigrants and gives us a beautiful message of hope that makes the darkest days in real life bearable.

Mañanaland is a tender exploration of everyday heroes, friendship and family, and the journeys we make for our futures. A beautiful story that I will treasure forever.

Profile Image for Darla.
3,356 reviews529 followers
February 24, 2020
The gorgeous illustrations and storytelling give a fairy-tale feel to the narrative despite the spare prose. This is a quick read, but unpacks some truths for middle grade kids to consider. It is simple enough for young readers to grasp while still giving the opportunity for more mature discussions with older ones. There are some high stakes moments with a not quite happily ever after ending. I predict this one could be on the Newbery list for 2021.

Thank you to Scholastic Press and Edelweiss for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Josiah.
3,211 reviews146 followers
November 5, 2021
Secrets, mysteries, and adventure are the foundation for many books, and Pam Muñoz Ryan lays that foundation early in Mañanaland, her first novel after earning a 2016 Newbery Honor for Echo. Maximiliano Feliciano Esteban Córdoba, now almost twelve years old, knows next to nothing about his mother. She left when he was a year old and hasn't been heard from since, but Max hopes she'll return someday to be a family with him, his father (Papá), and grandfather (Buelo). Papá used to play fútbol on the Santa Maria national team, but these days he designs and builds bridges, public engineering projects essential to the community they live in. Max admires this, but would rather follow in his father's footsteps as a fútbol star. Max, his best friend Chuy, and a group of other boys dream of playing for the national team, and their big break may be at hand: Héctor Cruz, a famous coach, is taking command of the local youth team, and is hosting a fútbol clinic for aspiring players. Max would love to join, but will Papá allow it? He tends to be overprotective, and the Córdobas don't have much money. As Max feared, Papá says no, but he offers to let Max assist him on a building project this summer at La Reina Gigante, an old, crumbling tower with a long, dramatic history. Missing out on the fútbol clinic is a bitter disappointment, but at least Max has something to look forward to.

The Guardians of the Hidden Ones are legendary. Some call them heroes, guiding the poor and afflicted to safety in new lands. Others say they were criminals, and still others doubt the Guardians ever existed. Papá is so serious these days that Max assumes he would scoff at talk of the Guardians, but as they start work on La Reina Gigante, Max learns the Guardians play a pivotal role in his family history. Is it possible Papá and Buelo were Guardians at one time? How about Max's mother? La Reina Gigante may contain answers, but Max is expected to work hard, not explore the premises. Papá is aware that Max needs to know more about his mother, but he promises to explain when Max is older. With a heavy heart, Max wonders when his father will stop treating him like a small child and level with him about the past, even if what he has to say is painful.

When Papá opens that door just a crack, there's no longer any stopping the avalanche of truth. With Papá on a trip to secure important papers Max needs to compete on the youth fútbol squad, Max takes solace in Buelo's old stories about the Guardians...until a story walks right up to Max in their own home. Father Romero needs a Guardian to guide a young girl to the place called "Mañanaland", where abuse and neglect melt away to be replaced by hope. Mañanaland is where Max's mother went, but only Guardians are allowed to escort people there. With Papá gone for the next few weeks, could Max take his place and find Mañanaland? It's a bold move, one that Papá wouldn't approve, but Max is tired of waiting; maybe he can find his mother and heal the rift in their family. Is Max's hope waiting to be fulfilled in this place called tomorrow? Taking his life into his hands, Max is about to find out.

"You will witness the best and the worst in people. Embrace the best and dismiss the worst. You are not doomed to live beneath other people's misguided notions. Rise above their narrowness. Pity them. And create your own noble worth."

Mañanaland, PP. 220-221

Pam Muñoz Ryan's use of language is soothing and lyrical, but I can't rate Mañanaland above two stars. There are too many vagaries in the narrative, missed opportunities for emotional and thematic resonance. Where do the Córdobas live: Europe, the Americas, or somewhere else? Is the story set in an alternative historical timeline, or even another world? Does it take place today, or long ago? Are the wars and other histories alluded to factual? I wish we knew more about the wheres and whys of this book. The vagueness does nothing to help Mañanaland, and though there are some suspenseful and meaningful scenes, it's not enough. I'm fond of Pam Muñoz Ryan at her best, and though Mañanaland didn't live up to my expectations, it's a decent story and I'm glad I read it.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,817 followers
July 6, 2020
I listened to this book via LibroFM as a part of their ALC program. This does not impact or affect my review in any way.

Wow this was such a powerful book and definitely wasn't completely what I expected.

Mañanaland is an interesting novel for several different reasons. It stood out to me because it starts off as a novel that seems to have no direction. There are two storylines: Max's obsession with being able to make the village fúbol team and his constant thoughts about his mother. At first the novel seems to just focus on Max's father attempting to get access to his birth certificate because they have to prove age and residence for Max to be able to play; however, eventually those two storylines weave together into a powerful novel about love, forgiveness, acceptance, and sacrifice.

While attempting to figure out what he can do when his father leaves to get his birth certificate, Max comes across a family secret. For generations his family has provided safe passage to those (The Hidden Ones) trying to escape the neighboring country of Abismo into Santa Maria and other countries. It is in this discovery that Max begins to learn and appreciate more about his family and his mother. While Max may not necessarily get the answers that he wants, I think that he grows as character and learns more about the weight of responsibility and sacrifices his family has been and will continue to make.

Even though it takes place in a fantasy world, this book is definitely an allegory for the outlook that many have on immigration especially those in the United States. I didn't find it surprising when The Hidden Ones were characterized as thieves and criminals. How could I when the president of my own country has done the same to so many of those seeking refuge into the United States. But Ryan gives such a raw, honest, and sometimes heartbreaking insight to the lives of those who do immigrate. Many in this novel were leaving to escape persecution and abuse and as a result had to give up everything they knew and loved just to be able to live a decent life. Nothing about this narrative surprised me, but that doesn't mean it didn't touch my heart any less. I think that this book is such a great introduction to having those important conversations about immigration and how it's important to listen to a person's story before judging them based off what you think you may know. I didn't give it 5 stars because the pacing was off, but I'm super excited to dive into more of her works.

I would also like to add that the audiobook for this novel was AMAZING. The songs in the book were song by the narrator and I absolutely loved them.
Profile Image for Renata.
2,505 reviews337 followers
December 8, 2020
This kind of allegorical magical realism just like isn't my cup of tea. This seems like it would be a good classroom read to talk about literary devices but I'm not sure how appealing it would be for a tween just looking for a book to read, tbh. I kind of feel like it's not realistic enough to serve as a compelling adventure story but it's also not fantasy-y enough to serve as a compelling fantasy? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Profile Image for Alex  Baugh.
1,954 reviews108 followers
March 30, 2020
Eleven-year-old Maximiliano Cordoba loves playing fútbol, and hopes to someday play on the celebrated Santa Maria national team just like his Papá and his Abuelo did when they were young. And tryouts are only a few weeks away. But when Max is invited to join a fútbol clinic in another town, his father refuses to give him permission to go. Instead, Max is invited to help his father find needed stones for building a new bridge, and earning money to buy a new pair of coveted soccer shoes. Additionally, Papá and buelo offer to coach Max themselves so he can make the team,

But when Max learns that he will need a birth certificate to play on the Santa Maria team, he also learns that his Papá doesn't have a copy of it. Nor does Max know where his mother is, only that she left when he was a baby.

Max is also fascinated with the stories his buelo tells him about the Hidden Ones, people who are fleeing the neighboring country of Abismo and seeking sanctuary in a place called Mañanaland, and with the Guardians of the Hidden Ones, local people, including his father and grandfather, who secretly escort the runaways to the next safe checkpoint.

While his Papá goes to San Clemente to see if he can get a birth certificate for Max, Max's curiosity overcomes him and he looks through his father's private papers. Finding a rubbing with the word Mañanaland on it, he knows that it came from one of the stones in the run down abandoned tower, La Reina Gigante, overlooking Santa Maria. Forbidden to go to the tower alone, Max sneaks off anyway looking for more information about his mother, and finds a stone with her name scratched on it. He decides Mañanaland holds the key to finding his mother, but where is it and how do you get there?

When an opportunity to escort a very young runaway comes his way while home alone late one night, Max jumps at the chance to be her Guardian, hoping to find information about where his mother really is. The journey proves to be perilous, but Max discovers that the stories his buelo has always told him are in fact truer than he would have thought, and that perhaps Max was being groomed not just to be a great fútbol player, but also a next generation Guardian, and a pilgrim, true of heart.

What I think about Mañanaland:
I have to be honest and say this book begins slowly, almost too slowly. But I have enjoyed the author's other books, so I kept reading, and a some point, I realized that I was totally hooked into Max's story. Max is a sweet boy, maybe too sweet. Under the circumstances of not being allowed to do things without knowing why, I would have expected more reaction - especially when he isn't allowed to join his best friend at the fútbol clinic. So I was kind of glad when he began to seek some answers about his life on his own.

For the most part, Max's story seems to be divided into two unrelated threads - his desire to play fútbol and his desire to find out about his mother. But then Ryan begins to tie these two threads together in the most unexpected way and that when the book becomes unputdownable. And that's all I can say without adding a spoiler alert.

Although the story is fantasy and place, Santa Maria is located "somewhere in the Américas," the plight of the Hidden Ones mirrors much of what is really happening in the world today. Many in Santa Maria, especially in government positions consider the Hidden Ones to be criminals and thieves, mirroring the sentiment of our government today towards refugees from Central America trying to get to the United States in the hope of a better, safer life, making this a very timely novel.

Mañanaland is an imaginative, lyrical, even magical novel, enveloping Max's coming of age quest for truth. But it is also a mystery that unfolds in some surprising ways, even as it challenges readers to think about what they would do if they were in Max's shoes. It is, simply, a book not to be missed.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an EARC received from Scholastic Press.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,827 reviews285 followers
May 8, 2020
Max Cordoba has grown up hearing the legends his grandfather has shared, stories of a mysterious gatekeeper who leads travelers to a safe haven, a place called Mañanaland, tomorrow land.

Then Max gets the opportunity to help a traveler in need of rescue. Can he do it, even though it is against his family's wishes.

It took me fifty pages to get into this story, but, once I did, I couldn't stop reading.
Profile Image for Padma Venkatraman.
Author 18 books502 followers
July 7, 2020
Magical, meaningful and moving. Another book to win hearts, written by an award-winning author. Max loves stories and longs to solve the mystery of what happened to his mother who disappeared when he was a baby. His father and grandfather are loving, but money is tight - and one day, when his father is away, Max grabs a chance to run away to try and discover what happened to his mother. The problem is, another young run away depends on him. Can he keep them both safe as they journey together in the hope of a better tomorrow?
Profile Image for Cindy.
294 reviews2 followers
February 9, 2020
I am a Pan Munoz Ryan fan. Esperanza Rising and Becoming Naomi Leon are wonderful stories, and I was so happy when her book Echo won a Newbery Honor award! So I was very excited when a copy of her soon-to-be-released book arrived on my doorstep!
The story is of a young boy named Maxilimiliano, or Max. He lives in a small village with his Papa and Buelo. He loves futbol and hopes to make the competitive team to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. His family are stonemasons, and they have built many of the bridges that span the winding river near his home.
But Max has many questions, and as he gets older, he becomes more anxious to find the answers. His mother left him and his father when he was a baby. He wonders why she left, and why his father is so serious and overprotective of him all the time. He is curious about the legends surrounding La Riana Gigante, the tower that stands watch over their village and is rumored to be haunted. Then Max stumbles across a family secret, and sets out on a journey that could give him the answers he seeks. **This story is sweet. It took me a few chapters to get involved in the story. It starts slowly for me, but once Max discovers his family’s hidden story, and begins the journey to find his place in it, it gets more enjoyable. I liked the symbolism—the Giant Queen tower standing guard over the village, and the peregrine falcon who, it is said, may carry the spirits of loved ones under her wings. The way Max begins to look outside of himself and learns to help others is well done. On the whole, though, the story was a little bland. The ending seemed rushed, like there was a time limit on making sure all the loose ends were tied up. Still, this will be an easy book to recommend to readers from high 3rd grade through middle school grade levels. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
542 reviews5 followers
September 22, 2021
This book is written as a very unique fairytale of sorts.

Maximiliano loves listening to the stories told to him by his Buelo—only he doesn’t know that these tales are really lessons in disguise.

Chock full of adventure and myths this book is simply amazing. It’s an allegory of sorts but I think targeted readers can easily pick up on the plot.

I chose this as my first read for #nationalhispanicheritagemonth and I am so glad I did . I have recommended this book to my #middlegrade daughter and am now recommending it to you !

"He hoped it all came to pass-sunshine, blue skies, flowers and fruit trees, waterfalls and rainbows. A different tomorrow, one without fear and filled with kindness, safety, and hope."
Profile Image for Jane.
163 reviews69 followers
February 17, 2020
I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader copy at the California School Library Association conference. Thank you Pam Muñoz Ryan for bringing the copies! This will be a great choice for middle school students. Set in a fictional Central American country, 12-year-old Max is determined to discover the mystery of where his mother is and why she left when he was just a baby. During a courageous and dangerous trip helping a runaway young girl, what he learns is not what he expected.
1,140 reviews6 followers
April 2, 2020
I continue to read more fictional books that bring to light (at least for me) events, atrocities, and situations that highlight historical events, but also shine a light on current events. Bravo to authors for seeing the present in light of the past, in hopes of a better future. A favorite quote from this book - “It only takes one or two people to generate hate and make it escalate.” This is not my favorite book written by Muñoz Ryan, but she remains one of my favorite authors.
Profile Image for Steph.
4,490 reviews48 followers
July 6, 2020
"Do you believe in happy endings?" Paused this audiobook so many times to write down quotes. Beautiful.

“You will witness the best and the worst in people. Embrace the best and dismiss the worst."

“Being a guardian is not about borders or laws or money. We never took money. It’s about people helping people.”

“A different tomorrow; one without fear and filled with kindness, safety, and hope.”

“It only takes one or two people to generate hate and make it escalate.”

“Isn’t that the most comforting thought: that there is always someone to help and you don’t ever have to struggle alone?”
Profile Image for Lynn.
3,205 reviews56 followers
April 11, 2020
Touching Story

A story of a son abandoned as a baby 🚼by the mother and a father who tries to keep the mother in the boy's ❤after she is gone. It is apparent that the mother has escaped to the US and they are in a Latin American country but he always hopes mom will come and the father keeps that hope alive.
204 reviews5 followers
May 5, 2020
I really enjoyed this read, it was whimsical, thought provoking, and hopeful. It would be a great read aloud. I would love to read it with kids in Spanish.
Profile Image for Sadie.
112 reviews3 followers
December 19, 2020
Bravo! This book has just the right amount of adventure, well fleshed out characters, a rich setting, and a satisfying ending. I loved and rooted for Max and his family from beginning to end. Through Max, Munoz teaches many valuable lessons, but it never feels forced or overly sentimental.
Profile Image for Amber Kuehler.
437 reviews72 followers
November 30, 2019
This book is going to stick with me for awhile...

Max is a young boy living with his father. His mother left a long time ago and he doesn’t remember her or know her. He wants to meet her desperately. Then he discovers a family secret while snooping through his dad’s stuff. A secret about an underground network of “guardians” who lead people fleeing their country to safety. Through this secret he continues to uncover clues about his mother and his own past.

Sadly, this story of people fleeing their country for safety is not new and is still very relevant today. This book is perfect for teaching kids compassion, especially compassion for people seeking asylum.

This book will be in March 2020 and I highly recommend it!
428 reviews14 followers
June 9, 2020
I preferred Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus, which came out a week before this and has a somewhat similar scenario.
Profile Image for Theresa Gonzales Cooper.
313 reviews33 followers
July 10, 2021
3.5 stars: I had very high expectations for this book. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is one my favorite middle grade books, so naturally I expected a lot from this one too. I really enjoyed the Spanish culture and storytelling in this book. Ryan has such a whimsical way of writing her stories. Her whimsical prose were present in the book, but I just wanted a little more fluff. I felt like the ending was a little rushed and I could have used some more nuances in the story. Overall, it was a good read.
Profile Image for Joanne Kelleher.
652 reviews4 followers
February 28, 2021
Max’s family is rich in stories about a mythical gatekeeper who guides brave travelers to a better tomorrow, but there is a wall of secrets surrounding his mother’s disappearance. And then there are the everyday worries such as wanting to make the elite fútbol team.
When a lost soul shows up at his door, Max uses his knowledge of the family legend to escort her to the mysterious Mañanaland. Muñoz alludes to the stakes of the journey, but while the travelers run into a bit of trouble, all obstacles are easily surmounted.
Upon Max’s return, he learns the truth about his mother’s disappearance, and gets his shot at making the fútbol team.
In this relatively simple story, Muñoz addresses the mixed reactions towards refugees, and the damage caused by intolerance.
Profile Image for Tory.
1,257 reviews28 followers
October 8, 2019
Ryan's books always have important messages, but her writing style always feels so old-fashioned, predictable, and preachy to me. She's just not an author I enjoy 😕 Don't get me wrong, Mañanaland's message is especially powerful in the current political climate, but I'd've enjoyed the experience of reading it better if it were written by someone else. 

(SPOILER but not really because again, it was very predictable)

Ohhh, you mean a place literally called "Tomorrowland" isn't actually a *REAL* place?? It's just a metaphor?! C'mon, Max; you're 12, not 6.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jill.
776 reviews
April 26, 2020
I'm a big fan of Pan Munoz Ryan but this was my least favorite of hers. I just kept waiting to hear why exactly the hidden ones needed to be hidden. Why were there so many that they needed to basically have an Underground Railroad for decades in place to take care of all these people? I liked the main story but felt like there were too many unanswered questions.
Content: Clean
Profile Image for JAN.
145 reviews1 follower
April 24, 2021
~~"Stand firmly in the reality of today, or life will only disappoint you tomorrow"~~

■This is a book about hope ,courage and kindness.The fantasy touch to the story makes it more magical.This book surprised me in many parts.I am happy to have read a book like this book.I liked it a lot

□□ Recommended to Young Readers □□
Profile Image for Katrina Tangen.
Author 2 books22 followers
April 15, 2023
The first half is backstory, so it took quite awhile to get going. Which I think particularly threw me because I was expecting it to have an actual fantastical element, not just be set in a country that doesn’t exist.
Profile Image for Linda .
3,707 reviews42 followers
March 10, 2020
I am grateful to have received this advanced copy from Scholastic Press

For anyone who does not believe the strength of eleven, almost twelve-year-olds, they have not met Maximiliano Feliciano Esteban Córdoba. It's summer and Max's dream of trying out for fútbol is dashed when his father won't let him join a local team so he can improve. Within the clash with his father, Max worries that he will lose a best friend who plans to join. Max will have to help his father and sometimes his grandfather build bridges. They are both stonemasons. Within the loving family that includes aunts, too, Max knows he is loved, but being treated as if he is "never" old enough to know family secrets frustrates him. He is comforted by his dog, Lola, as he sets out to find secrets from a special box his father has hidden. This leads to an adventure he begins, first at the towering ruins of La Reina Gigante, a haunted hideout used in the past by the Guardians to hide refugees as they fled Abismo, a war-torn, neighboring dictatorship. There he finds Mañanaland scratched into the wall, a place he believes is where his mother has disappeared. Thus begins a journey that includes the stories his Buelo has told him for years, but now they've become very real as Max becomes a "Guardian" helping a young girl escape.
Hearing Max tell his story, watching him discover and dream, and most of all show how very brave and kind he is will make readers smile and wish they had such a friend. Pam Muñoz Ryan beautifully shows a multi-layered story of thoughtful and compassionate Max that will connect readers to the frightening lives of refugee immigrants. I hope many young readers will have the chance to read this wonderful book, out last week.
Profile Image for Anita McDivitt Barrios.
949 reviews11 followers
September 6, 2021
Mañanaland was a relatively gentle treatment of a very difficult subject, immigrants fleeing from one country to another and a mother who felt compelled, for the sake of her child, to give him up to people she knew would take good care of him (his father).

Maximilliano grows up never questioning he's from Santa Maria, until his soccer team's new coach requires his birth certificate to sign up.

From that point forward, when his Papa can't produce the document, Max looks at the people who love him in a very different light, especially his father and grandfather. Very quickly, the legends about a secret network of people who guide refugees through the city to safety takes on new meaning. And Max suspects they're real, and his father and grandfather are part of the network, disguising their work with their bridge building.

Then the local priest knocks on the door when his grandfather and Papa are out, asking for help getting a young woman to her next destination. It's true! There is a secret network that smuggles refugees through the country. Max agrees to help her, but he doesn't mention he doesn't know the way -- only the path vaguely laid out in his grandfather's stories.

He follows the story clues, leading her as best he can, because he suspects it's the same path his mother took, so many years ago, when she left him with his father. And he wants nothing more than to find his mother and be reunited with her.

But the path is perilous and they are hunted, almost from the start. With help, he gets the girl to her next destination, but he learns he may never find his mother.

I won't ruin how it ends, on a hopeful note, actually. Pull up a box of tissues; it's a heart-breaking read.

Looking for more book suggestions for your 7th/8th grade classroom and students?

Visit my blog for more great middle grade book recommendations, free teaching materials and fiction writing tips: https://amb.mystrikingly.com/
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,376 reviews66 followers
May 2, 2020
"You will witness the best and the worst in people. Embrace the best and dismiss the worst. You are not doomed to live beneath other people's misguided notions. Rise above their narrowness. Pity them. And create your own noble worth."

Max loves his family, but yearns for a mother he never knew and wishes his Papa wasn't so protective of him. Secrets are revealed and Max begins to understand about evil that exists close by and learns that his family has a legacy of helping those who cannot help themselves. But can he follow in that path or will he stay safely in the shadows where no one could possibly reject him...or worse? Pam Munoz Ryan has written another masterpiece that weaves fantastical stories with a reality where victims need help to get to a safe place and where a boy can find his tomorrow. Those who loved Echo will see the same seamless weaving of the almost magical with possibly true life events to create a masterpiece. This is a must-have book for grades 4-8 and should be put in the hands of any reader who wants to feel differently once they finish it.
Profile Image for Keisha Schmitt.
10 reviews
April 26, 2021
I must admit that this book took me a little while before I could say that I was "hooked". However, once I reached that point I could not put it down, and when I did have to put it down it was actually on my mind. I kept thinking to myself "what is going to happen next?" In this book, we meet Maximiliano (Max) Córdoba, a twelve year old boy with a big passion for fútbol, making it onto the fútbol team with his friends, and his grandfather's stories about a mystical gatekeeper who helps people to see tomorrow. Max only lives with his grandfather and father, his mother left when Max was just a toddler, and every day he dreams about the moment he will be reunited with his mother. One day, Max is presented with an opportunity, the opportunity, to set out on a long adventure to see tomorrow. With snacks, a compass necklace (left behind by his mother), and few friends Max goes out to see if tomorrow will bring him his dreams!

I would classify this book as a fantasy fiction book, for upper elementary students in grades 4-5! I chose this book as a WOW book, because whereas I was not immediately hooked by the book, I did get to a point where I could not put the book down! As a teacher, I would use this book to discuss tougher topics like immigration. However, I also feel as though this book would serve as a window and mirror for my students regardless of if they speak Spanish or not, or if they come from another country, or if they have loved ones who did as well! This is a book that I am really excited to read aloud and explore with my students one day!
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