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A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War
Written by María José Ferrada
Illustrated by Ana Penyas

Ages 7-10
HARDCOVER; Published: 10/27/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5545-9
Price: $ 17.99
40 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 8.875 x 7.875
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On May 27, 1937, over four hundred children sailed for Morelia, Mexico, fleeing the violence of the Spanish Civil War. Home was no longer safe, and Mexico was welcoming refugees by the thousands. Each child packed a suitcase and boarded the Mexique, expecting to return home in a few months. This was just a short trip, an extra-long summer vacation, they thought. But the war did not end in a few months, and the children stayed, waiting and wondering, in Mexico. When the war finally ended, a dictator—the Fascist Francisco Franco—ruled Spain. Home was even more dangerous than before. 

This moving book invites readers onto the Mexique with the “children of Morelia,” many of whom never returned to Spain during Franco’s almost forty-year regime. Poignant and poetically told, Mexique opens important conversations about hope, resilience, and the lives of displaced people in the past and today.

Malka Penn Award Committee Malka Penn Award Honor Book (2021)

Foreword Reviews INDIES in Picture Books, Early Reader Finalist (2020)

Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices List (2021)

United States Board on Books for Young People Outstanding International Books List (2021) 

National Council of Teachers of English Notable Poetry Books List (2021)

Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection (2020)

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Specific yet universal in its narration, this makes the refugee experience accessible to young readers.”
“In commemoration of a lesser-known predecessor to WWII’s Kindertransport, this atmospheric import recalls a 1937 voyage in which the titular ship carried 456 children of Spanish Republicans to safety in Mexico for, supposedly, a brief stay. Ferrada, a Chilean writer, takes the voice (if not the language) of a younger child for her terse, poetic narrative: ‘War is a huge hand that shakes you / and throws you onto a ship.’ Working from period photos for her illustrations, Penyas uses a dark, somber palette to portray downcast children trooping aboard a ship made small on a broad ocean, being welcomed in Veracruz, and then taking a train for Morelia, a city in Michoacán where, due to the outcome of the Spanish Civil War, most were to remain until at least 1948.”
Publishers Weekly
“A sobering contribution to the history of Spanish-speaking people in North America, and a memorial to a little-known group of refugees.”
The Horn Book Magazine
“Although the specifics of the story are clearly historical, there is a universality to them that connects these pages ot the tale of every child sent away from home for safety during times of war.”