Friday, May 8, 2020

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan - ESSENTIAL

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan, 251pages.Scholastic Press.2020. $17.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG



Maximiliano Córdoba is a 12yo boy living in a village called Santa Maria in a country also called Santa Maria.  When he has the opportunity to get free elite soccer training in the city with his friends, he feels like his future is bright and anything is possible, even learning about his mom who left when he was a baby. He asks his Papá for permission to go to the fútbol camp and when Papá refuses to let him go, Max is shocked to discover there are many secrets his family has been keeping from him.  A series of events leads to Max discovering the biggest secret, realizing the much-loved stories his Buelo tells him each night hold clues to the way to Mañanaland. Without waiting for his Papå and Buelo, he chooses to guide a young, endangered girl on the journey to a place he has never tried to find, but hopes might hold the answers about his mother that he has been looking for.

Mañanaland is a beautifully written allegory of the plight of the immigrant or refugee.  I loved that the story setting was general enough that it leaves out judgment of any one group and just tells the human side of the story through the people involved. The love, compassion, and sacrifice of many is clear as the human story behind illegal immigration and the reasons behind it are explored and magical thinking helps soften the harsh reality of the journey. This seems to be a great way to talk about illegal immigration and the reasons behind it without focusing on the politics surrounding it.  The writing is beautiful, just like Pam Muños Ryan’s writing usually is, and the cover of the book gives a sense of the beauty and mystery that the story holds.

Reviewer Stacee S. MS teacher

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