Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient

Random House Studio. Jun. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984893994.
Gr 1-3–DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient Morales’s book is based on her journey from Pueblo, Mexico, to New York as an undocumented immigrant at the age of six. The story starts with Areli at her grandmother’s house in Mexico, where she enjoys the company of her cousins and the delicious food. Every Sunday, she and her brother, Alex, expect a call from their parents who are already in the United States. Alex, who was born in the United States, will be joining his parents soon. Areli, however, will rely on a family friend she does not know to take her into the country. In New York, everything is bigger and faster and unfortunately, things are not better at school, where she does not know English and is humiliated by boys calling her “illegal” and “backward.” The first-person primary-grade-friendly narrative style moves effortlessly including Spanish language terms interspersed with English, the main language of the book. The one-to-five line paragraphs are set in small black font accompanying the pastel illustrations. This book could be used in a social science class highlighting Areli’s capacity to adapt and thrive as she navigates her new environment. It contains an author’s note addressing the fragility of the DACA program and back matter with a glossary defining the Spanish language terms in the story.
VERDICT A moving biographical picture book that would be a sensitive addition to the shelves of libraries, accompanying A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa and Coert Voorhees.

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