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Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War



by
María José Ferrada
illustrated by
Ana Penyas

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Imprint
Eerdmans
ISBN
9780802855459
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War
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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.Afterword. Note about research. Four-color illustrations. 

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

40

Trim Size

7 9/10" x 8 9/10"

Dewey

F

AR

0: points 0

Lexile

500L

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Feb 2021

Book Genres

Picture Books for Older Readers

Topics

Refugees. History of Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. History of Mexico, 1910–1946.  Mexique (ship). Emigration and immigration.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Horn Book

In the spring of 1937, the ship Mexique sailed from France to Mexico with 456 Spanish refugees, all children whose parents were fighting on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War. The expected three-to-four months away became years and, for some, a lifetime, as Franco’s retribution against former Republicans and then the onset of World War II made it impossible for the children to return home. Ferrada focuses on the journey itself, told from the limited perspective of one (likely fictional) young child. “I can’t really remember where we are going, but it is far.” The narrator clings to the older children—“Clara, Sonia, Eulalia, Maria, our sisters, collect our tears in their handkerchiefs”—finding strength from companionship through a difficult transition from the familiar but terrifying wartime Spain to the unknown but welcoming Morelia, Mexico. “We play at imagining where we are going. Morelia is a color…Morelia is a fruit.” Penyas’s illustrations are primarily black and white, with accents of red. The palette effectively establishes setting and grabs attention. Per an appended note: “The images in this book are based on photographs of the ‘Children of Morelia’ and the ship that brought them to Mexico,” adding a further layer of realism and poignancy. In one spread, small panes each show a different view of the open ocean, fragments of the narrator’s interminable journey. Although the specifics of the story are clearly historical, there is a universality to them that connects these pages to the tale of every child sent away from home for safety during times of war. MAEVE VISSER KNOTH

Praise & Reviews

Horn Book

In the spring of 1937, the ship Mexique sailed from France to Mexico with 456 Spanish refugees, all children whose parents were fighting on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War. The expected three-to-four months away became years and, for some, a lifetime, as Franco’s retribution against former Republicans and then the onset of World War II made it impossible for the children to return home. Ferrada focuses on the journey itself, told from the limited perspective of one (likely fictional) young child. “I can’t really remember where we are going, but it is far.” The narrator clings to the older children—“Clara, Sonia, Eulalia, Maria, our sisters, collect our tears in their handkerchiefs”—finding strength from companionship through a difficult transition from the familiar but terrifying wartime Spain to the unknown but welcoming Morelia, Mexico. “We play at imagining where we are going. Morelia is a color…Morelia is a fruit.” Penyas’s illustrations are primarily black and white, with accents of red. The palette effectively establishes setting and grabs attention. Per an appended note: “The images in this book are based on photographs of the ‘Children of Morelia’ and the ship that brought them to Mexico,” adding a further layer of realism and poignancy. In one spread, small panes each show a different view of the open ocean, fragments of the narrator’s interminable journey. Although the specifics of the story are clearly historical, there is a universality to them that connects these pages to the tale of every child sent away from home for safety during times of war. MAEVE VISSER KNOTH

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