Cover image for Jimena P©♭rez puede volar
Jimena P©♭rez puede volar
Physical Description:
32, 32 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Titles from separate title pages; works bound back to back and inverted.
Geographic Term:
Ten-year-old Jimena loves El Salvador but when gangs threaten to force her to join, she and her mother immigrate to the United States, but are separated at the border.


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Ten-year-old Jimena Pérez loves life with her parents in El Salvador. They sell fruit at the market, just like her grandmother and great grandmother did. "Fruits / are a blessing / like you, Jimena," her mother tells her.But one day a group of boys threaten her friend Rosenda at school. "You know / what will happen / to your family / if you don't join us." Jimena's parents, afraid gangs will try to recruit her too, decide she must go to the United States with her mother. She is excited and fearful, and doesn't want to leave her father, friends and dog Sultán. "I felt sad / the way fruit looks / when it's past ripeness." By bus, train and on foot, mother and daughter make their way north, until one night, bright lights fill the sky and men in green uniforms rip Jimena from her mother.Imprisoned with children from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, Jimena and the others cry for their parents. One boy repeats over and over, "My father's name is Marcos / He is in Los Angeles." A box full of books brings her some solace, reminding her of the ones donated to kids at the market in El Salvador. "The letters kiss me / like my mama's words / like my papa's words / I am a little bird / Nothing can stop me / I can fly." In this poignant narrative poem for kids ages 10-15, award-winning Salvadoran poet Jorge Argueta movingly captures the fear that drives so many Central Americans to flee their countries and the anguish created by separating children from their parents at the US border. Putting a human face on the millions of people who flee their homelands each year, this book will help young people understand the difficulties of migration and leaving behind all that is dear.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--6--Jimena Pérez loves her mami and papi, her dog Sultán, her abuela, and the fruits her mami sells at the San Jacinto market. She loves the sunrises and the sunsets of El Salvador and the books she reads at the market. When the threats of the neighborhood gangs grow closer, Jimena's parents decide to take their daughter to the United States, far away from the impending violence. Jimena and her mami must make the long journey to Texas, boarding the train known as La Bestia (The Beast). When Jimena and her mother are caught by border agents and separated, Jimena is left alone with other children, unsure of where her mother is or when they will be reunited. Through her sadness, Jimena finds comfort in the books someone brings to the children, books full of beautiful pictures and words that give Jimena wings that help her fly. She becomes "a little bird." Written with heartbreaking honesty, the lyrical poems provide insight into the intimate world of a young girl who loves her life and her family, but who, like so many others, must leave everything behind in order to reach a better--and safer--life. This bilingual book is divided into two sections, one with the poems in Spanish and the other with the poems in English. VERDICT A necessary title for public and school libraries. Argueta presents a candid look at the reality many children and families face and the difficult choices they have to make when trying to change their lives.--Selenia Paz, Harris County Public Library, Houston

Kirkus Review

Argueta tells the story of 10-year-old Jimena Prez, who unexpectedly journeys from her home in El Salvador to the U.S.Told in a sequence of short poems first in Spanish and consequently in English, this poignant story introduces Jimena's home through her senses: "Me gusta / el color de las zanahorias. / Pero ms me gusta / el olor de los maraones"; "I like the color / of the carrots. / But what I like most / is the smell of the cashew fruit." When young boys from a neighborhood gang threaten Jimena's schoolmate, Jimena's parents, fearing for their own daughter, decide that Jimena and her mother will join family living in Texas. After exiting El Salvador and later Guatemala, Jimena and her mother climb atop a trainLa Bestia, known for its ruthlessness and periland later trek by foot. Authorities find Jimena and her mama and pull them from each other. "I feel alone. / Other kids are crying. / We're little birds / alone and sad / in a metal cage." The harrowing tale ends in a detention cell for children, yet in this realistic hell, Jimena manages to find some small hope. It leaves Jimena scared and uncertain, and it won't be a stretch for readers to understand that the questions they have about Jimena apply to far too many real-life children like her.A poignant, sincere, empathetic glimpse at family border separation. (Verse fiction. 8-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Prize-winning poet Argueta captures the voice of a young Salvadoran girl heading to the northern border in narrative poem form. Jimena gleefully anticipates her visits to the San Jacinto Market, where her mother sells fruits. Jimena's spirited voice describes the colors and smells of fruits and vegetables, along with the sound of Don Simon's booming voice announcing the produce for sale. Her childlike, sense-filled descriptions emphasize her love of home and create a stark contrast to the threat of violence that compels her mother to take Jimena north. Argueta deftly captures the innocence of a child besieged by terrifying and uncertain circumstances. Despite a heartbreaking separation, the message is ultimately hopeful, as Jimena envisions herself flying, a hope readers will carry for all the children whose experiences mirror the protagonist's. The narrative poem is included in both English and Spanish.--Jessica Agudelo Copyright 2020 Booklist