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Migrant
     

Migrant

by Maxine Trottier, Isabelle Arsenault (Illustrator)
 

Anna is the child of Mennonites from Mexico, who have come north to harvest fruit and vegetables. Sometimes she feels like a bird, flying north in the spring and south in the fall, sometimes like a jackrabbit in an abandoned burrow, since her family occupies an empty farmhouse near the fields, sometimes like a kitten, as she shares a bed with her sisters . . . But

Overview

Anna is the child of Mennonites from Mexico, who have come north to harvest fruit and vegetables. Sometimes she feels like a bird, flying north in the spring and south in the fall, sometimes like a jackrabbit in an abandoned burrow, since her family occupies an empty farmhouse near the fields, sometimes like a kitten, as she shares a bed with her sisters . . . But 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."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An ALA Notable Children's Book, 2012

A New York Times Best Illustrated Book, 2011

Short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Award for Illustration, 2011

"Without a heavy message, this sensitive offering captures a small child’s experience of constant upheaval as she flies like a feather in the wind." —Booklist

"The words and images could stand alone as feats of artistic excellence. Together, they form a package that should become a staple for kids learning about Canada’s diverse population." —Quill and Quire, starred review

" … moving, inventive and thoughtful …" —Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
The "Flying Geese" quilt pattern on endpapers and beginning pages stands for Mennonite migrant workers who travel north from Mexico each year to Canada for the harvest. Little Anna feels like a bird, always flying back and forth, never settling in one place. Anna is too young to work, but, though the family lives for now in an empty farmhouse, she imagines herself a jackrabbit with a cozy burrow. Sometimes the workers seem to her like bees, her sisters and brothers like kittens and puppies. Interaction with Canadians is remote, since people stare and the Amish speak a German dialect; Anna thinks the voices she hears sound like crickets chirping. Her special dream is of being a tree, rooted in the earth, able to watch the seasons pass, while the monarchs and the geese fly south in autumn and return in spring. But, it's fall and time for the workers to leave again. Quebec illustrator Arsenault (Mister Gauguin's Heart) gives this unusual story a sense of movement through space with her delicate images on long horizontal spreads, always moving the eye to the right, reminding us of the flying geese. Anna's dreams are imagined in gouache, crayon, and collage with transparent watercolor, in warm browns and red-oranges mixed with cool greys, blues and aquas. Canadian author Trottier, while evoking the poignancy of Anna's unsettled life, has an important story to tell about the plight of these Mennonite workers, still Canadian citizens though living in Mexico, and the hardships and dreams of migrant workers everywhere. Both text and illustrations could serve as inspiration for poems and art. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—This beautifully written story tells of a girl who belongs to a group of Mennonites who moved to Mexico in the 1920s, but still migrate to Canada annually to labor in the fields. Anna wishes she could stay in one place, to "be like a tree with roots sunk deeply into the earth" so that she could have stability and see the seasons change. Instead, readers get a glimpse into the child's musings as she compares her family to migrating geese, butterflies, or bees. The artist's mixed-media renditions of Anna imagining herself as a rabbit or her siblings as kittens and puppies are priceless. Even the geese wear tiny kerchiefs and hats as they soar through the air. There is a sense of childlike whimsy as well as deep longing conveyed through the illustrations, while the language of the text is rich with similes and descriptive words. Background information about this sect of Mennonites and migrant workers in general appears at the back of the book.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
Kirkus Reviews

Trottier frames the outlook of a child in a family of migrant workers within a series of metaphors and similes. Anna sees herself as part of a flock that travels its seasonal round from Mexico to Canada like migratory geese, settles temporarily in old farmhouses like jackrabbits in other animals' abandoned burrows and works in the fields like bees. She shares her bed with other girls like a litter of kittens and compares the voices of local residents speaking in unfamiliar languages to "a thousand crickets all singing a different song." Arsenault's mixed-media images of doll-like figures in overalls and long print dresses, hats and headscarves effectively capture both Anna's sense of isolation and the close family ties that keep her immediate family and larger community together. Anna's background is unusual—she belongs to a group of Low German–speaking Mennonite farmers who emigrated to Mexico in the early 20th century but kept their Canadian citizenship and still travel northward each summer—but her sense of herself as a rootless outsider is broadly applicable to other, perhaps all, migrant groups. The designer merits a rap on the knuckles for hiding part of the author's explanatory afterword beneath a jacket flap, but on the whole is a moving, inventive and thoughtful look at a way of life many people share. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780888999757
Publisher:
Groundwood Books
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
340,938
Product dimensions:
9.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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