I’ve wanted to read, and review, today’s Perfect Picture Book from the first day that I learned about it. I put in a hold request at my local library, and there it sat, unfilled for months, until it arrived…when I was traveling! Imagine my surprise when the book magically appeared on the New Books shelf late last week: maybe a staff member read it and decided that my little library needed a copy of its own perhaps?
Title: Seven Pablos
Written By: Jorge Luján
Illustrated By: Chiara Carrer
Translated from Spanish By: Mara Lethem
Publisher/Date: Enchanted Lion Books/2018
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: names, South America, immigrants, multicultural
Pablo is eight years old and lives in Chile. His father works in a copper mine, where he spends his days drilling into the rock half a mile underground It is cold down there, but he sweats nonstop.
Brief Synopsis: Short vignettes featuring seven different boys named Pablo leading different lives across the Americas, but sharing similarities.
Links to Resources:
- Learn more about the countries in South America where many of the Pablos live;
- Do you share a name with someone? How are you the same or different?
- Ask a parent or caregiver about the meaning of your name and why they chose that name for you.
Why I Like this Book:
In Seven Pablos, Luján provides glimpses into the lives of seven young boys living in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, New York City, and Peru. All face economic and other hardships. Pablo in Brazil rummages through garbage in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. He doesn’t attend school, because he lacks paper, a pencil, and shoes. One Pablo in Mexico is a refugee from the Argentinian dictatorship and lost several relatives during that regime. Another Pablo in Mexico is attempting to cross the border to follow his parents into the US. Pablo in New York City is the son of immigrants from Guyana, living in one room with his parents for half of each day, while cousins occupy the room for the other half. The Pablos in Chile, Ecuador and Peru also face hardships.
Despite these hardships, the Pablos share not only their names but also loving families, even when the families consist of a single parent only or are in a different location. And it’s clear that these Pablos share dreams of a better life – whether in the United States, in school in Brazil, or in an Ecuadoran village listening to the music of traveling musicians. As Luján notes at the end, Inside of each is a heart that beats with the same rhythm as the ocean’s waves and the rotations of the planet.
Although there is little story line and only snippets of information about each Pablo, I think Seven Pablos is a timely and important book for classroom and family discussion as issues of immigration and race feature on the news each night. With its message of hope and inclusion at the end, and Carrer’s child-like color and graphite illustrations, I found Seven Pablos to be a haunting read, whose glimpses into these varied lives will linger.
A Note about Craft:
Luján uses one name to tie the stories of seven different South and Central American children together. Although he could have focused on just one of the children, by featuring seven, I think he brings breadth to the issues facing children in economically-challenged households in a way that focusing on one child may not have done.
Luján is an Argentinian poet, novelist and musician living in Mexico.
Carrer is an award-winning Italian illustrator.
Enchanted Lion Books is an independent children’s book publisher based in Brooklyn, New York, that publishes “illustrated books from around the world”.
This Perfect Picture Book entry will be added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!