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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mañanaland, by Newbery Honor author Pam Muñoz Ryan (Echo), blends dreamlike magic with an 11-year-old boy's coming-of-age tale as he takes up the family mission of helping refugees. He does this amid his other challenges of daily life, from quarreling with friends to having to work instead of play soccer -- and missing the mom who's been gone since he was a baby. There are many sweet moments of kindness and friendship (and a parting scene that, heads up, will have everyone in tears). There's a lot of praise and support for refugees fleeing horrible situations, some expression of moral superiority over "rich" people who don't like the refugees. A number of scenes show kids in deadly peril from goons trying to get a 6-year-old girl, whose parents were killed for protesting labor conditions, and send her back to her violent abuser for the reward money. Love, courage, friendship, and family carry the day, even when things don't go as the characters wish and hope. Spanish phrases and songs are important in the story, and a Spanish-language version of the book is set to be published in fall 2020.
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What's the Story?
Between the awful country of Abismo (the abyss) and MAÑANALAND, the magic-tinged destination of desperate people fleeing Abismo's atrocities, lies the peaceful village of Santa Maria. For generations, its now-ruined tower, La Reina Gigante, has been a temporary haven for the "hidden ones" in their long trek and become the subject of many legends. And as summer begins in Santa Maria, Maximiliano Cordoba, almost 12, discovers he's heir to a number of family traditions, one of which, he knows, is playing soccer -- his dad and grandfather were both pros. Another, he learns, is helping the "hidden ones" get to safety. His mother vanished when he was a baby, being a "hidden one" herself. Now, with his father and grandfather both out of town, the call comes to get someone new to the next safe place. Will Max be up to the challenge?
Is It Any Good?
Magical realism meets the stark experience of refugees around the world in Pam Muñoz Ryan's heart-filled story of 11-year-old Max's courage, kindness, and quick thinking. Under the protective wings of a peregrine falcon, he steps up in a moment of need to guide an abused child to safety in Mañanaland, which is the destination of generations of people fleeing atrocities in a neighboring country. It's a life-changing hero's journey, passing through many situations that resonate strongly with some ugly things happening in our world -- and also the beautiful ones.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about about the lives refugees described in Mañanaland. What can go so wrong in people's lives that they feel they have no choice but to flee? Why do you think this is a popular theme in storytelling? What could cause you to have to flee your home and look for a new one elsewhere?
Much of Mañanaland deals with following family traditions. Does your family have any traditions you like? Are there some that you wish would go away?
Do you like soccer? Do you like to play, or just watch and cheer your team?
- Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic
- Publication date: March 3, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 9, 2020
Our Editors Recommend
The Night Diary
India-Pakistan religious conflict drives moving family tale.
Harrowing page-turner sheds light on child refugees.
They Called Us Enemy
Powerful graphic memoir of actor's internment as a child.
For kids who love adventure and stories of kindness
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