Happy New Year! It’s amazing to think that the holidays are “done and dusted”, as many of my English friends say. Did you travel over the holidays? Our family journeyed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – my first, but hopefully not last, visit to Brazil and South America. In addition to sightseeing and enjoying sun and warm temperatures, we celebrated our daughter’s recent marriage to a Brazilian with his family and friends. Like the main character in today’s Perfect Picture Book, I’m sure my son-in-law anticipated the trip with much excitement. Hopefully, too, he also feels that New York, although much, much colder than Rio, is now a home where he belongs.
Title: Alfredito Flies Home
Written By: Jorge Argueta
Illustrated By: Luis Garay
Translated By: Elisa Amado
Publisher/date: Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press)/2007
Suitable for Ages: 4-9
Themes/Topics: El Salvador; immigrants; home
My name is Alfredo, just like my father, but everyone calls me Alfredito. I am as happy as a bird today because I’m going back home. Finally, after four whole years in San Francisco, my mother, Adela, my father, my grandmother Serve and I are going to climb on a plane tomorrow and fly back to El Salvador.
A young boy and his family who fled their home in El Salvador journey back to visit relatives and friends.
Links to Resources:
- Learn about El Salvador, the country from which Alfredito’s family fled and to which they journey back;
- Alfredito and his family enjoy many native dishes when they visit their family, including pupusas, corn tortillas with a filling. Make pupusas y su curtido (filled corn tortillas with pickled cabbage);
- Describe in words or pictures a visit to family or friends. How did you feel before the journey? How did you feel when it was time to go back home?
- Alfredito knows he is close to home when he spies Quezaltepec, a beloved volcano in El Salvador. Learn about volcanoes.
Why I Like this Book:
Although the word count is high by today’s standards, Alfredito Flies Home is a heart-warming story about refugees who journey back for a visit to their home country several years later. I found it particularly interesting that Alfredito’s family fled initially overland with the aid of smugglers, but journeyed back via plane. I think it’s also important for kids, both those who fled and those learning about refugees, to see that, as in Alfredito’s case, only part of his family left El Salvador. Upon his return, he was able to see his older sister for the first time in four years, see cousins and meet some who were born while he was in the US, visit the grave of a grandmother whose funeral they could not attend, and reunite with a beloved pet dog. Most importantly, by journey’s end, Alfredito comes to the realization that he has not one, but two homes, one in El Salvador and one in San Francisco.
Garay’s colorful acrylic on canvas paintings complement Argueta’s descriptions of Alfredito’s life in San Francisco and El Salvador.
A Note about Craft:
As mentioned above, Alfredito Flies Home has a much higher word count than many picture books published today. A native El Salvadoran and Pipil Nahua Indian, Jorge Argueta is an Own Voices poet and children’s author who inserts many details into the story that someone less familiar with El Salvador may have overlooked, such as how Alfredito’s family home looks, including the parakeets in the hibiscus bush that squawk to welcome the family back. Luis Garay is of Nicaraguan descent, and has also lived in Canada. That both men know what it’s like to leave one country and straddle cultures adds to the authenticity of Alfredito Flies Home.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!