Alfredito Flies Home // Alfredito regresa volando a su casa


author: Jorge Tetl Argueta
illustrator: Luis Garay 
Spanish author: Jorge Tetl Argueta
Groundwood Books, 2007 
grades 3-up 
Pipíl, Salvadoran

Alfredito and his grandma and parents are preparing to go home to El Salvador for Christmas—the first time they’ve returned since they fled as refugees and made their way to California on foot. This will be the first plane ride for them, and anticipation has little worms crawling in Alfredito’s stomach. The shopping for gifts for all the friends and relatives back home; the excitement of being on a plane “that jumps like a frog and leaves everything behind”; the joyful reunion with his sister and his aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and new puppies; the visit with his grandparents who “live in the cemetery…so full of little birds and is nice and hot so my grandparents don’t feel so cold and alone”; and the good-bye piñata that no one wants to end—too soon it is over and Alfredito must fly home again, to California.

Argueta inserts Spanish terms into Alfredito’s narration and his family’s dialogue, reflecting a merger of two languages in a relaxed atmosphere. The Spanish version, Alfredito regresa volando a su casa, is idiomatic and flowing, so hablantes will enjoy the story as well.

On the cover, Alfredito is in his back yard pretending to be an airplane, while a real plane flies overhead. On the ground are the universal symbols of north and south—a football and a soccer ball—and both belong to him. Garay’s glowing, acrylic-on-canvas paintings, rich in color and detail, complement this warm story of the loving reunion of a boy and his large extended family.

Some young readers will be familiar with what it means to be so desperate to have to go with “any Señor Coyote, or run through the mountains, or hide in the trunks of cars” in order to get to el norte, where there may be the possibility of employment and the possibility of sending money home to relatives. These young readers know, as does Alfredito, that not everyone, for many reasons, gets to go back home. Alfredito Flies Home // Alfredito regresa volando a su casa bring to mind the wisdom, “¡Ningún ser humano es ilegal!”—To be human is never illegal. Both versions are highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 10/17/15)

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