A Gift at the Border

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins

Maria lives with her mother and little brother Juan in San Diego, close to the Mexican border. She has heard many stories about her grandmother – Abuela – but has only a vague recollection of her.

One day, Maria and her family travel to Border Field State Park to participate in the celebration of La Posada Sin Fronteras (The Inn Without Borders). They come to two towering fences, with a space between them, which run parallel to each other. Border guards allow several people at a time to enter the space so they can talk to their Mexican relatives or friends behind the second fence.

When it’s Maria and her family’s turn to enter, there’s Abuela! Maria tries to push the scarf she’s knitted for her through the fence, but a guard stops her. Juan cries when he realizes he won’t be allowed to give Abuela the picture he has drawn for her on a large piece of cardboard.

Filled with compassion for her brother, Maria glares at the fences. When she notices birds soaring over the border, she comes up with a creative solution and Juan’s card is delivered to Abuela after all. 

In notes, author Mitali Perkins explains that La Posada Sin Fronteras occurs on one day during Las Posadas, a festival celebrated in Mexico which commemorates how Mary and Joseph found no room in the inn on the night of Jesus’ birth. Timely and sensitive, this brightly illustrated children’s book reflects the reality of many people living in the United States today who are separated from those they love.   

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