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CriticasGr 5-8-These two books together offer first-hand accounts of life as a migrant worker in the United States in the 1950s. Jim nez uses his own biographical details and family stories to paint an intimate and, at times, nostalgic picture of his family's struggles to survive as undocumented workers in California. Although his tone is often sentimental, the author does not attempt to gloss over the daily struggles with hunger, poverty, homelessness, and hard work. The family survives from season to season by following the crops up and down the California coast, living in tent cities and shacks, avoiding la migra ("immigration authorities") and, throughout it all, finding a way to send the children to school. Jim nez presents his story in the first person as seen through a child's eyes, which lends an undeniable authenticity to the anecdotes. Originally published in English in 1997, sections of Cajas de carton have also appeared in periodical publications. The second book, first published in English in 2001, picks up the narrative as Panchito is getting ready for high school but first has to deal with the deportation of his entire family. From these dire beginnings, the story goes on to chronicle the success of the author as he timidly ventures beyond his social sphere, becomes the senior class president, and eventually earns a college scholarship. Both texts have been ably translated by the author. Named a Pura Belpr honor book, both Senderos fronterizos and its prequel belong in every library serving Mexican American populations. The straightforward narrative lends itself to classroom use as well as to independent reading, and it will appeal to adult readers as well as middle-schoolers.
—Maria Otero-Boisvert, "Criticas" Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.