Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre

By Publishers Weekly

In this bilingual tale, Sofía’s mother, a U.S. resident, isn’t the extraterrestrial kind of alien; rather, she’s from an unspecified Spanish-speaking country and has a residence card that reads “ALIEN” at the top. [T]he portrayal of a family member on a journey toward U.S. citizenship is a crucial story, especially for readers whose citizenship has never been called into question. Younger readers may not know that non-citizens are referred to as aliens, or that the children of non-citizens wrestle with unexpected questions: “Mamá was an alien. Papá didn’t have a card, so he was not an alien. That meant I was half alien,” Sofía reasons. By devoting more narrative energy to the idea that Sofía’s Mamá comes from outer space, Laínez keeps the story from turning sanctimonious or didactic. In warmly colored paintings, Lacámara matches stylized, folk art–style humans with droll alien figures that feature a variety of arms, legs, antennae, and tentacles.