Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

Book review by
Monica Encarnacion, Common Sense Media
Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border Book Poster Image
Heartwarming Christmas story set at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Informative, visual details about life at the border. Teaches about cultural traditions, explains Las Posadas and La Posada Sin Fronteras, sheds light on immigrant experience.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about family and love, cultural traditions, and overcoming border fence between Mexico and the United States.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emphasis on resilience, hopeful representation of challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border, beautiful and informative representation of Mexico's cultural traditions, ingenious ideas from one little girl.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border, by Mitali Perkins and illustrated by Pura Belpre Honor illustrator Sara Palacios, is a heartwarming story of one family's strength and unity in overcoming fences along the United States-Mexico border. It sheds light on the hardship of separation and the resilience of families who live on opposite sides of the border. Vibrant scenes and beautiful illustrations bring the story to life. The main characters meet at the border to celebrate La Posada Sin Fronteras, or "The Inn Without Borders," a one-day celebration during Las Posadas (a nine-day festival celebrated in Mexico, from December 16 to 24), when people along the border from Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California, come together to celebrate Christmas traditions and visit with each other for a very brief moment at the border fence.

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What's the story?

BETWEEN US AND ABUELA: A FAMILY STORY FROM THE BORDER is a heartwarming tale of Mexican American families living at the border. It's almost Christmas and time to celebrate La Posada Sin Fronteras. Maria, her younger brother Juan, and their mother travel to the border of California and Mexico to visit their grandmother. For a few minutes they can share time together along the fence. Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and bring Christmas gifts to share with the abuela they haven't seen in years. But when they're told that their gifts aren't allowed through the fence, Maria comes up with a brilliant idea to get Juan's gift to Grandma.

Is it any good?

This touching story sensitively focuses on challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border and celebrates Mexico's cultural traditions in a heartwarming, informative, and hopeful way. Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border is a poignant story that can add to the current national discussion about challenges at the border and can serve as an excellent prompt for discussion with young kids. It's a beautiful book that makes readers consider the hardships of separation for families who live on different sides of the border. It's filled with warm illustrations that fold in informative visual details about life at the border and cultural traditions. And Maria's inventive solution at the end of the book will make readers cheer. It's an easy-to-follow story with a few instances of colored text and larger fonts that draw attention to the characters' thoughts and excitement about being together.

The author's note at the end of the book provides background on Las Posadas and explains how border reunions work during La Posada Sin Fronteras ("The Inn Without Borders"). It also includes details about how to learn more about, support, and participate in the La Posada Sin Fronteras event.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it's like for families who live across the border. What are some of the challenges that the family faces in Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border?

  • What are some of your family's traditions during the holidays?

  • Can you relate to Maria and Juan's story? Do you know anyone who lives far away who you wish you could spend time with more often?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Latinx and bilingual stories

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