David's Reviews > Migrant

Migrant by Maxine Trottier
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's review
Nov 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: multicultural, picturebooks

Migrant by Maxine Trottier, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault is a story told by Anna, the youngest child of Mennonites from Mexico, who have come north to harvest fruit and vegetables.

Anna, the youngest child of low German speaking Mennonite migrant workers from Mexico, often compares her life to animals. At times, Anna feels like a bird, flying north in the Spring and south in the Fall, or like a jackrabbit in an abandoned burrow, since her family occupies an empty farmhouse near the fields, or like a kitten, as she shares a bed with her sisters. Above all Anna wonders what it would be like to be a tree rooted deeply in the earth, watching the seasons come and go, instead of being like a "feather in the wind."

The poignant text describes the migrant experience through the eyes and imagination of a child. Metaphors and similies are beautifully used in Anna's story. Feelings of being different and not understanding different languages are conveyed. An author's note explains the history of Mexican Mennonites, still retaining Canadian citizenship, who return to Canada to harvest crops each year. The conditions that migrants experience are also discussed.

The illustrations were rendered in mixed media: watercolor, gouache, crayons and collage. The imaginative illustrations depict both reality and the vivid imagination of young Anna. The illustrations evoke a childlike feeling as if Anna composed them herself. My favorite images include geese flying with bonnets and hats, Anna imagining herself as a jackrabbit, a giant jackrabbit jumping out a window, the workers as bees, the scenes in the grocery store, Anna riding a giant cricket, and Anna as a tree.

This book is a evocative look at the life of migrant families, and this Mennonite group in particular. It will not only be useful for language study, but can be a springboard for discussion of the migrant experience and their contributions. I appreciated learning about this group of people of which I had not been aware. I highly recommend this for school and public library collections.

For ages 5 to 10, teachers and librarians, multicultural, language, Mennonites, migrants, similies, mataphors, social issues, and fans of Maxine Trottier and Isabelle Arsenault.
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