From the Publisher
"Young people of all ages will be intrigued and affected emotionally by this exceptional story."
-- Winnipeg Free Press
"Fullerton weaves strands of beauty. . . It doesn't take long to read, but it packs an emotional punch.
-- CM Magazine
"Alma Fullerton creates two characters who wend their way into the reader's heart with a story that will have even the most reluctant reader forging forward with them to a better future."
-- The Brandon Sun
"The suspense is real and though readers may question some of the choices Libertad makes along the way, they will celebrate his perseverance and ultimate success. With realistic detail and well-paced suspense, this survival story is a good choice for reluctant readers."
-- The School Library Journal
"The spare free verse is uneven but still packed with heartrending images of desperation and squalid poverty that will be eye-opening to young readers. Libertad's fierce love for his brother is deeply moving and based on the story of a real boy's journey combined with other children's actual experiences. Although there are some contrivances and loose ends, this short yet evocative tale will attract readers."
"Fullerton does not underestimate the dangers faced by her fictional characters: although occasionally helped out by a few generous souls, the boys elude predators of various kinds, narrowly escape permanent membership in the street gang in Mexico City, and nearly drown in the Rio Grande. The details of their ordeal are clear and precise, and it is obvious that the book has been a labour of love. It is a well-told adventure story, but it is also a record of injustice overcome and a lament."
-- Canadian Literature
"This novel in verse is a heart-wrenching, emotional look at two brothers and their dog, and their quest to reach their father. Their naivety is evident, and the poverty, even seen through the eyes of the young boys is immense and overwhelming. Despite the blight of the main characters, however, this is a story of hope. . . All Middle School libraries should have novels like this as part of their collections. Fans of Deborah Ellis will enjoy this novel, and even students who are wary of novels in verse will find this read enthralling.
-- Resource Links
KLIATT - Ellen Welty
Libertad and his little brother Julio live on the outskirts of Guatemala City near the city dump. With their mother, they make a living by salvaging trash from the dump and selling it. Their father has gone to America to make a new life for them and his promise to return for them someday keeps Libertad going on the hardest days when selling cardboard and plastic don't bring enough money for food for the three of them. Libertad wants more than anything to give his brother the chance at an education and he sacrifices that chance for himself in order to give it to Julio. When a freak accident kills their mother at the dump, Libertad realizes that he will no longer be able to provide for Julio and himself and the brothers do the only thing that they can, set out to find their father. They face cruelty from both humans and nature along the way and their story is a testament to perseverance. The word ‘libertad' means freedom in Spanish, and this brief novel in verse form is a powerful testament to the hope of Libertad. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
School Library Journal
In a series of free-verse poems, Libertad describes the events leading up to his mother's accidental death in the Guatemalan dump where the family picks garbage and his subsequent journey north with his little brother, Julio, and a dog to find his father in the United States. Desperate and determined, the boys depend on their wits, the kindness of people they meet on their way, and a bit of good fortune. They play a marimba picked from the trash, work in fields and a tortilla factory, and even beg on the streets of Mexico City. Basing her story on the experiences of actual migrant children, Fullerton conveys their struggle in simple but carefully chosen words and images. The suspense is real and though readers may question some of the choices Libertad makes along the way, they will celebrate his perseverance and ultimate success. With realistic detail and well-paced suspense, this survival story is a good choice for reluctant readers.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
Libertad picks trash for a living with his younger brother and their mother in Guatemala City. When she dies in a horrible accident, they head for Texas, clutching an address where they hope to find their father and taking along a marimba. Their talent with it brings them luck along the otherwise treacherous trip. Written in unexceptional free verse poems, the story lacks any narrative tension that such a plot would suggest, and the flatness of the language puts a formal distance between the readers and the characters. Although the book is in English, readers are to assume the characters speak and think in Spanish; yet Libertad has the disconcerting habit of occasionally translating his dialogue into Spanish ("Texas, Julio. / We're in Texas. / We are free! / Somos libres"). And his untempered belief that their arrival in Texas solves everything ("FREE / from the garbage / FOREVER") will strike even young readers as a little naïve. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-13)