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My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders / Mis Zapatos y Yo: Cruzando Tres Fronteras

Book review by
Monica Encarnacion, Common Sense Media
My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders / Mis Zapatos y Yo: Cruzando Tres Fronteras Book Poster Image
Immigrant boy's inspiring journey, told in two languages.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids learn what life is like for immigrant families as they journey across the border to find a better life -- unexpected challenges, dangers, big dreams for a better future.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the importance of family, dreaming of a better life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

René is a strong boy. Even when life gets hard he pushes ahead with a big goal in mind. His father is kind and loving. Immigrant kids may see their own experiences reflected in this story.

Violence & Scariness

 

Language

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders / Mis Zapatos y Yo: Cruzando Tres Fronteras, by René Colato LaÍnez, is a bilingual book inspired by the author's journey across three borders as a young boy. René -- with his new shoes -- and his father set off on the long trek to across El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico to reunite with his mother in the United States. Each page is beautifully illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck with rustic, textured painting that help bring this story to life. It sheds light on the experiences of many young children who travel from Central America to the U.S. in search of a better life.

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What's the story?

MY SHOES AND I: CROSSING THREE BORDERS / MIS ZAPATOS Y YO: CRUZANDO TRES FRONTERAS is the inspiring story of René's journey to the United States. When René and his dad must leave their home in El Salvador, they set out on a grueling trek across three borders before being reunited with Mamà, who already lives in the United States. His mother has sent René a new pair of shoes for the journey north because it will be a difficult one -- they will walk miles, ride buses, and climb mountains through El Salvador, into Guatemala, and then into Mexico, where they will cross a river before arriving at their final destination. René loves his new shoes -- "Uno, dos, tres, my shoes and I are ready to go." His new shoes eventually lose their shine, turning dirty and gray but become elephants, pushing against the wind; race cars, fleeing hungry dogs; swim shoes, escaping floods; submarines, navigating through sticky mud. And when holes appear on the soles and René wants to give up, his father doesn't let him -- "René, my strong boy, we want to be with Mamá."

Is it any good?

René Colato LaÍnez’ inspirational story beautifully captures the hard journey that immigrant children and families face as they travel across borders to find a better life in the United States. LaÍnez' use of short sentences, repetition, running metaphors, and sound effects make this timely story engaging to young readers. My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders / Mis Zapatos y Yo: Cruzando Tres Fronteras is an excellent story to read with immigrant children who may have had similar experiences, or to others who may be curious about what it's like to cross the border into the United States.

At the end of the book you'll find brief bios in Spanish and English for both LaÍnez and illustrator Fabricio Vanden Broeck. As well as an Author’s Note page in Spanish and English in which LaÍnez shares details about his journey to the United States and explains his reason for writing this book. He wants others to know about the hardships immigrant children and families face when they leave home to escape violence and crime and search for a better life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it's like for immigrant kids crossing the border into the United States. What are some of the challenges René and Papá face in My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders / Mis Zapatos y Yo: Cruzando Tres Fronteras? 

  • How would you feel if you suddenly had to leave your home and face many dangers on your way to a new, unknown place?

  • Can you relate to René’s story? Do you know anyone who’s journeyed across the border to find a better life in the United States?

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