Still Dreaming / Seguimos soñando

By Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

The young narrator of this bilingual picture book embarks with his family on a journey that clearly no one wants to take. The young boy has been tiptoeing around his stressed parents, hearing hushed whispers and vague references to friends and neighbors taken away, and now Papá has decided they will leave their small pecan orchard before they are forced out. On their way out of town, the boy wistfully remembers playing with his pals, but he’s glad to be leaving the shops he and his family were never allowed to enter (“We serve whites only NO MEXICANS” says a sign). The story takes an unexpected turn when they meet a group of fellow travelers, and it’s revealed they are all being forced to leave the U.S. for Mexico during the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s. Martínez saves most of the specific historical details for the author’s note, instead focusing on the contributions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans as the people the boy meets talk about their work in Alaska, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other parts of the country. The gouache, ink, and digital art has a softness that belies the bittersweet story, but the palette shifts and body language emphasize its nuance, as the boy and his parents attempt to make the best of a terrible situation.