In this poignant bilingual picture book, a boy remembers his first present, “a little train crossing / the mountain of my pillow / over a valley on my bed.” There’s even a girl who looks like his sister waving happily from the window!
Years later, after his parents have gone far away in search of work and a better future, the boy rides in a real train to join his family. This one is loaded with hundreds of children traveling alone, just like him. There are frightening strangers, others along the way who want to jump on and, scariest of all, a boy who almost falls off the roof because he can’t stay awake any longer.
When the train finally arrives at its destination, everyone jumps off and the boy begs “the moon to shine, / to light up the border” so he can cross and find his mother. This moving, poetic story by award-winning Salvadoran author Mario Bencastro touches on the difficult journey north many Central American children make in hopes of finding their parents and a better life.
Honorable Mention, Premio Campoy-Ada de la Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española
“This bilingual picture book shares a young boy’s journey in often-rhyming stanzas in English and Spanish. Realistic illustrations show readers the simple joys of the young boy’s life as well as the fears and worries of his crossing. This is a much-needed introduction for young readers to the migration many children make every day.” —School Library Journal
Impressively illustrated by the artistry of illustrator Robet Casilla, this moving, poetic story by Salvadoran author/storyteller Mario Bencastro touches on the difficult journey north many Central American children make in hopes of finding their parents and a better life — making “A Train Called Hope/Un tren llamado Esperanza” an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library bilingual picture book collections for young readers ages 8-12. —Midwest Book Review
MARIO BENCASTRO is the author of award-winning novels that explore the impact of civil war on the lives of Central American immigrants in the United States. His books include A Shot in the Cathedral (Arte Público Press, 1996), The Tree of Life: Stories of Civil War (Arte Público Press, 1997), Odyssey to the North (Arte Público Press, 1998), A Promise to Keep (Piñata Books, 2005) and La mansion del olvido (Ediciones Puerto Santa Lucía, 2015). Bencastro lives in Florida.
ROBERT CASILLA was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, to parents from Puerto Rico. He has illustrated many children’s books, including Pat Mora’s The Remembering Day / El día de los muertos (Piñata Books, 2015) and First Day in Grapes (Lee & Low Books, 2014), which received a Pura Belpré Honor Award. He lives in Connecticut.