Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Hello, Aida Salazar! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! I often think about how lovely it was to meet you and chat with you during ALA Midwinter in Seattle. I am honored and excited you dropped by to share the POWERFUL cover for Land of the Cranes. What ran through your head (or your heart) the first time you saw Quang & Lien’s cover illustration?

Aida Salazar: I felt instant love for the sketch. Seeing the face of Betita as imagined by this team of illustrators I can only compare to how I felt seeing the face of my child for the first time after I gave birth. I carried that baby for nine months and knew it intimately but to see their perfect beauty with my own eyes is a magic like none other. I felt it for my first book too and didn’t think it could happen twice. However, I am so delighted to have felt this way again with the cover for Land of the Cranes.

What are three things Betita would want everyone to know about her?

Aida Salazar: She loves to draw/write picture poems.

Her deepest wish is to keep her family together.

She believes all migrants should fly as free as cranes.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Betita’s Papi instills in her a love for the wonder-filled myths of the origins of her people and their belonging to the Americas.

I hope Land of the Cranes reaches readers’ hearts and minds and serves to expand their capacity for empathy and love but also to understand the need for compassionate justice for migrants.

Did you know 69,550 migrant children were held in U.S. government custody in 2019? "This is enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more children detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.

Some of these migrant children who were in government custody this year have already been deported. Some have reunited with family in the U.S., where they’re trying to go to school and piece their lives back together. About 4,000 are still in government custody, some in large, impersonal shelters. And more arrive every week.” – Frontline 

The Moon Within tells the story of an eleven-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican-Mexican dancer, Celi Rivera, who is on the cusp of adolescence. She has many questions about her blossoming body, her best friend’s exploration of genderfluidity, and her first crush. The thing she dreads most is the moon ceremony (Mexica-based rite of passage) her mother wants to give her when her first period comes. Things get more complicated for Celi when her crush is a bigot to her best friend. She has to look to her community, to the universe and inside herself to take a stand for who she wants to be. 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me… What connects you to Betita?

The answer would be: 

I, like Betita, was an undocumented child. The immigrant community in which she was raised in East LA and the fears, stigmas and prejudices her community faces are mine, too. Though I was never detained or deported for being a migrant, many of my family members and members of my community have. This is a story I had to tell for us.

Look for Land of the Cranes on September 15, 2020. 

Scholastic's Description: 

From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.

Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.

Then one day, Betita's beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?


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