Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border is a contemporary story on several levels. Of course, it is first a Christmasstory. Maria, Juan and their mother are going to see their Grandmother. They take a long trip to see her. And they bring presents. And second, it is a story about a family that must be creative about how they deliver said gifts, as they are separated by the border, the fence and the Border Patrol. Yet, this is a happy story despite that. It is how these loved ones can spend time together and give a special gift in a creative way.
Mitali Perkins’s story is sweet. There is not a lot to it in the way of ADVENTURE! But there is a lot to it in the way of the true meaning of the season and family. Maria and her mother knitted a scarf for her Abuela. But the guards will not let them push it through the fence. An easy solution of sending it to her emerges, even if Maria is said Abuela will not be able to wear it home. But there is no way Juan’s picture will be able to go through the fence, even if it was allowed. How can they give Abuela her other Christmas gift?
Based on actual families who have gone from their homes in California and Mexico to meet at the border, this is a story that can be read anytime. While it might not make a great “anytime story” there is a lot of potential for when you could read it. This could be a one-on-one read or for a group read. Sara Palacios ties it all together with their bright, happy, quirky and lovely simple (but not simplistic) illustrious.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to do this, just to celebrate Christmas with your family. I thought it odd that my classmates had to go to NJ or out of state to see their grandparents. I was, “What? You don’t put on your slippers and go upstairs?” You see, I lived downstairs and my paternal grandparents lived upstairs. It was a big deal to go to my maternal grandfather’s place: we had to put on shoes and jackets! He lived maybe 30 minutes from us. I never realized how special this was. I never realized how lucky I was to have my family so close to me.