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Middle-grade novel explores the challenges facing children of parents without documents.

The Pew Research Center reports that in 2010, there were 4.5 million U.S.-born children whose parents were unauthorized immigrants. The sensitive, timely middle-grade novel, Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco, sheds light on the often chaotic lives of children in mixed-status families and the resilience they acquire as they negotiate two worlds.

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco is a debut middle-grade novel by Judith Robbins Rose. It is published by Candlewick Press and will be available in September. You can purchase the book from the publisher or from Amazon.

In Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco, Jacinta recounts the year she turns twelve. It is a year of discovery and tragedy, a year of typical 12-year-old drama coupled with life-changing events that would defeat many adults. Through Jacinta’s relationship with her family and her complicated relationship with a mentor, Judith Robbins Rose gives readers a window into the world of citizen children of parents without documents.

Young readers will laugh at Jacinta’s clever insights and identify with her emotions, but they will not always like her reactions. As the story unfolds, they will begin to understand the complicated layers of her existence. The author masterfully reveals the balancing act that is life in the shadows, and the domino effect that can bring a child’s world crashing down when something goes wrong. With this awareness, readers come to appreciate how little control Jacinta has over her life and admire her resourcefulness.

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco is a well-crafted, timely middle-grade novel. It is filled with resilient characters dealing with complex lives. For young readers who share Jacinta’s situation, it acknowledges their strength and the gift of being part of two cultures. For readers who are not familiar with these challenges, it serves as an introduction to the difficult reality faced by many members of our communities. As with all complicated topics, an informed adult perspective will can make the reading experience even more valuable. It is an excellent choice for classroom use at the middle grades.

Follow Judith Robbins Rose on Facebook, and for more great multicultural literature, follow Candlewick Press on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of this product to be able to write the article. I may have been compensated for my time. All of the ideas and opinions are my own.

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