A young child describes what it is like to be a migrant as she and her father travel north toward the U.S. border. They travel mostly on the roof of a train known as The Beast, but the little girl doesn't know where they are going. She counts the animals by the road, the clouds in the sky, the stars. Sometimes she sees soldiers. She sleeps, dreaming that she is always on the move, although sometimes they are forced to stop and her father has to earn more money before they can continue their journey.
We don’t know why the two left, nor where they are trying to go. Thankfully for the cause of realism, the two protagonists wear the same clothes throughout, although they do manage to look showered, and the father regularly shaven. The more unpleasant aspects of emigration are omitted. For example, we see them traveling the desert by night, but not during the day, when they would have been plagued by the heat and by thirst, even in winter. They always seem to be healthy, and never hungry.
Of course one could ask just how much misery and unpleasantness is appropriate to show very young children, but this particular story doesn’t make the horrific trek usually experienced look so bad. On the other hand, all the omissions provide plenty of opportunity for parents or teachers to fill in the blanks or not, as they deem appropriate for each child.
The excellent illustrations by Rafael Yockteng clearly show the father expressing despair over his finances, but happiness when he is with his daughter.
Evaluation: In today's political climate, this book will provide an excellent corrective to the canard that all illegal immigrants are rapists and/or criminals of some kind.