Collected and translated by Carolyn Alessio, this bilingual anthology of poems, stories, memories, and philosophies was written and illustrated by the children of La Esperanza, Guatemala. Drawing upon the fortitude of their mothers, who began hand-sewing crafts to sell in the United States in order to survive the hardships of this war-torn impoverished country, Alessio’s students, aged four to sixteen, reveal amazing survival skills, fertile imaginations, and dreams of attaining better lives. The resulting work is a collection of poems and drawings that are terse, funny, sometimes sad, but always humanly, gloriously alive.
As Alessio explains, “At first, I thought I might be imagining the echoes of magical realism, but as I continued to read the students’ writing and study their drawings, I found similar themes. Witches killed children who didn’t respect the spirits; women abused by their husbands sought refuge in trees with magical doors. People who didn’t have money or jobs lived on the road and in forests, where they alternately fought and partied with the animals.”
The volume features a foreword from Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border and By the Lake of Sleeping Children: The Secret Life of the Mexican Border.