________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 32. . . .April 22, 2011



Maxine Trottier. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2011.
40 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-0-88899-975-7.

Subject Headings:
Mennonites-Canada-Juvenile fiction.
Mennonites-Mexico-Juvenile fiction.
Migrant agricultural laborers-Canada-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Kristen Ferguson.

**** /4



There are times when Anna feels like a bird. It is the birds, after all, that fly north in the spring and south every fall, chasing the sun, following the warmth.

Her family is a flock of geese beating its way there and back again.

What would it be like to stay in one place to have you own bed, to ride your own bicycle? Anna wonders.

Now that would be something.


Anna is a Low-German speaking Mennonite girl whose family members are migrant farm workers. Every year, Anna's family travels from Mexico to Canada to work on farms as seasonal workers. In Migrant, Anna shares her emotions about being a member of a migrant family that continually travels from place to place. Anna explains that she feels like a goose continually migrating, like a jackrabbit when moving into new houses, like a bee when watching her family work, and like a kitten when she is snug in her bed with her sisters. She feels out of place when in Canada, and she wonders what it would be like to be a tree with roots that never has to move.

internal art     Migrant is not a linear story, but rather a series of poignant mental images as Anna shares her feelings about her life through metaphors, similes, and imagery. Trottier writes in a descriptive, vivid, almost poetic style. The illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault are fantastical and imaginative, reflecting the metaphors and imagery of the text. Readers will benefit from the nonfiction information about migrant workers in Canada that is included on the dust jacket and at the back of the book. Without this information as a preface, however, children may be lost as to what is happening in the book.

      While the publisher recommends Migrant for young readers (ages 4-7), this is a book that is really for older readers (ages 9-13) who would be more capable to understand the rich metaphors and grasp the political and social messages relating to seasonal workers. Canadian picture books with rich themes that are appropriate for late elementary school level are limited, and Migrant would make a wonderful addition to any book collection for this age group to spark discussion about empathy and social justice.

Highly Recommended.

Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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