Between Us and Abuela

My first picture book, BETWEEN US AND ABUELA, releasing 9/10/19 from Macmillan FSG, is illustrated by the amazing Sara Palacios. Feel free to PRE-ORDER NOW!


It's almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico.
For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven't seen in years. But when Juan's gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea. Here is a heartwarming tale of families and the miracle of love.

Author’s Note

Las Posadas is a nine-day festival celebrated throughout Mexico and in other countries from the 16th of December until the 24th of December. It is a time to remember the birth of Jesús and how his parents, María and José, searched for shelter on the night he was born. Turned away from the inns of Bethlehem, María gave birth to her baby and laid him in a manger.

Every night during Las Posadas, two people dress up as María and José. A procession of people holding candles and poinsettas join them to knock on the door of an “inn” or “Posada.” On these nights, though, unlike that long ago night in Bethlehem, the Holy Family and their companions are welcomed, sheltered, and feasted.

La Posada Sin Fronteras (“The Inn without Borders”) is celebrated on one day during Las Posadas along the border between Mexico and the United States of America. People in Tijuana work with people in San Diego to plan the event. Friends and families gather in Friendship Park in San Diego and in Playas de Tijuana by the lighthouse in Tijuana. They sing traditional Posada carols, hear the stories of migrants living in the United States and in Mexico, and listen in silence to the naming of migrants who died trying to cross the border.

Participants from many church traditions worship on both sides of the border with the primary border wall between them. On the US side, they stand in the area known as the enforcement zone, between the primary and secondary border wall, under the surveillance of Border Patrol officials.

Rules, fences, and walls along the border are in flux. This story is a fictional portrayal of the celebrations of La Posada Sin Fronteras that have taken place since 1993. In that walled setting, during one of those many events, we imagine one family separated by the border trying to share the joy of Christmas.

I am grateful to Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s U.S./Mexico Border Program, for his guidance. If you are interested in supporting La Posada Sin Fronteras or participating in the event, you may find out more here.

 "...Maria; her little brother, Juan; and their mother take a bus to the U.S. side to hear the Christmas story, sing carols, worship with other separated families, and have a fleeting face-to-face moment through the fencing with beloved Abuela, who has traveled from her Mexican village to see them for the first time in five years ... Cartoon drawings emphasize the resilience of Abuela and her family as they navigate the border landscape, the impenetrable wall, and a situation that feels unfathomable—but is, unfortunately, all too based in reality." ― Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Reading about a real place in San Diego makes this book exceptionally poignant. You can easily imagine yourself standing on your side of that wall looking eagerly for your own loved one. You can feel how hard it must be not to be able to hug and touch your grandmother ... A beautiful story of how we hold our family in our hearts and how being with them is treasure that cannot be measured. A powerful story of how painful and harsh it is to be separated from them. A brilliant story about finding a way to connect the two sides." ~ A Book and a Hug

"La Posada Sin Fronteras occurs on one day during Las Posadas, a festival celebrated in Mexico which commemorates how Mary and Joseph found no room in the inn on the night of Jesus’ birth. Timely and sensitive, this brightly illustrated children’s book reflects the reality of many people living in the United States today who are separated from those they love." ~ Christian Courier