Book cover for Migrant
Maxine Trottier, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault Groundwood Books, 2016 30 pages, $18.95.
Reviewed by Jill MacCharles Crain

Migrant tells the story of Anna and her family leaving their home in Mexico and traveling to Canada to work on farms as seasonal workers, harvesting fruits and vegetables each year. This award-winning Canadian children’s author describes the hardships facing Anna’s family. Their struggles are depicted in their quest to find housing in an old, empty farmhouse, the physical toll of harvesting crops as a family, and the need to share a small bed at night with many brothers or sisters. The family’s trip to the grocery store demonstrates some of the challenges newcomers to Canada face – strangers stare and few speak their home language. Anna’s family does not speak or understand English, a struggle many families new to Canada can relate to.

The story illustrates what it is like to be a child in a migrant family. Anna describes her experiences as a newcomer to Canada, comparing herself to objects and animals to give the reader a glimpse into her perspective and feelings. Her “longing to stay in one place like a tree with roots and to see the seasons pass” touches our hearts and gives us a greater appreciation of the life that many of us take for granted. Students can easily identify with Anna and her family and gain insight into how families have many different struggles.

This book would be a wonderful read aloud text for any grades K-8 class. It can be used to teach reading comprehension skills using visualizing and making connections strategies for primary/junior grades. This text would work well with the grade 2 social studies lessons that help to “understand diversity that exists among families that leads to an appreciation of diverse perspectives.” This book could start lessons and discussions relating to character education traits including empathy, courage and kindness that are embedded in all classes.

Jill MacCharles Crain is a member of the Durham Teacher Local.


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