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Amelia's Road


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Amelia Luisa Martinez and her family, migrant farm workers, move from harvest to harvest, staying in labor camps for short periods of time. Amelia hates los caminos --the long, cheerless roads that the Martinezes travel in their rusty car--and resents the fact that she attends various schools so briefly that teachers don't always bother to learn her name. It seems unlikely that Amelia will get her wish to ``settle down, to belong.'' But during one apple harvest, she goes to a school where the teacher and children do learn her name, and she finds a special spot near an old tree that she claims as her own. Here, when it is time to move on, the girl buries a box filled with ``Amelia-things'' and promises to return one day. Altman's first picture book provides an affecting and ultimately hopeful look at a transient way of living that will be unfamiliar to most of her audience. Sanchez's (illustrator of Abuela's Weave ) richly textured acrylic on canvas paintings deftly portray the arduous daily routine of migrant workers as well as the wide range of Amelia's emotions. Ages 3-10. (Sept.)

K-Gr 3-A poignant yet gentle portrayal of the lives of migrant children. Constantly on the move, Amelia's family records events by crops not dates, carries with them only what will fit in the car, and are never anywhere long enough to feel at home. The girl longs for a place to stay, a place where she belongs. Teachers rarely bother to learn her name, so when Mrs. Ramos does so, it is special. The child's picture of a white house with a big shade tree earns a beautiful red star. On the way home, she discovers a road leading to a tree just like the one she drew. She visits this place often, and buries a small metal box filled with her treasures there when she must leave. For the first time in her life, Amelia has a home place. The acrylic-on-canvas illustrations have a folk-art quality that works well with this story. The canvas texture shows through the paint to add an almost tactile roughness of hard labor while rich colors capture the harvest crops at their succulent best. An important title for any library serving migrant populations, Amelia's Road should be a welcome addition almost anywhere. Useful in a variety of educational units, it works equally well as a read-aloud or read-alone.-Jody McCoy, Casady School, Oklahoma City

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