Cover Image: Manuelito


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Member Reviews

Manuelito and his best friend's parents prepare their escape to America with the help of a paid coyote (smuggler).  He was just a fun-loving 13 year old who was good at math until one day, his village started changing.  His village in Guatemela had become too dangerous for boys his age--gangs were moving in, rumors of drugs circulated and their lives were no longer safe.  Manuelito would have to set off on a treacherous journey to find his  Aunt in New York.  Following him, we learn, through graphic panels, the life of a refugee.  The story is told from the heart and told in an engaging way. 

This graphic novel should appeal to elementary school kids and middle school teens alike.  No glitz and glam --a quick read and perfect for reluctant readers. The charcoal drawings set just the right tone. You can really see the boys struggle through the terrain, the water--depictions of what most refugees must go through to save their lives is remarkable.  I appreciate the notes at the back of the book. It went into the UN Refugee Convention details and explained why much of what ICE is doing today is a violation of it.  Another gem from Annick Press, Canada.
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An excellent fictionalized account of a young refugee's journey to America. I would enjoy another installment.
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This was a very strange read for me. The formatting of the ARC didn't lend itself to be enjoyed properly as the text and the images were separated and made the reading experience become disjointed. However, in terms of the timeliness of the story, I thought it was poignant and important to talk about. I particularly liked to read about Manuelito's feelings of paranoia and how scared he felt once he arrived in the U.S.; I think it's something a lot of immigrant children are dealing with on a daily basis, especially those who've been separated from their families and don't have the language to express their distress. 
It is clear that this book was not for me in that its subject matter wasn't geared towards me (a Puerto Rican who doesn't have to deal with issues of citizenship in the U.S), as it shouldn't because obviously not every book can be for every reader. I do wonder as to why, if this book was geared towards children, there wasn't much of a message of hope at the end, since Manuelito is sent back to his home and back to more violence. Wouldn't this kind of narrative retraumatize a reader by telling them that there is no hope for freedom? 
Anyway, Abolish ICE and CBP.
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I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. And honestly I wish I had been able to receive a physical copy instead of the kindle version. These days all the kindle versions are so badly formatted I wonder if NetGalley  (or whoever formats them!) put out any effort at all. :P

Anyway, on to the actual book. From the parts that were actually understandable, this story follows a little boy as he tries to immigrate to the United States. As you can imagine its an emotional book to read because the kid is pretty young and put in some scary situations. So the story was well written, and I liked it. But I do wish the art had been different. It's all in black and white, which I felt took away from the story. If it had been in color I think it would have hit home more. 

This book seems to be geared towards a younger audiences, which at first I wasn't sure about. Could a kid handle reading a very real story about immigration? Then it hit me that kids are literately going through the situation, they aren't reading about it, they're living it. Which obviously I knew from reading the book but for whatever reason really got to me while thinking about the intended audience. So I think that kids should read this book. They should know what's going on. What adults are LETTING happen to real children.  It's happening and we should be changing things, sometimes all we need is different motivation. Maybe this book will be helpful to some people.

Anyway, I'll stop now. I gave this book 3 stars. It's not perfect. I would read it again and maybe change my rating if i could get a physical copy.
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Manuelito is the powerful story of a teenage refugee. When gangs start to take over Manuelito's town in Guatemala, his parents fear for his safety and hire a coyote to take him to the United States. The graphic novel details Manuelito's trip to the United States, his attempt to seek asylum once he reaches the U.S., and his treatment within the U.S. The story is told in a graphic novel style with some initial information provided before and after the graphic novel about Guatemala and refugees. 

This is a very simply narrated story of a very complex issue. The story is told in a way that younger readers will understand and will have empathy and compassion for Manuelito. I believe that this is a very important social justice issue for young readers to learn and think about and discuss. This book could lead to some very interested and deep conversations if used in the right setting and context. There is a lot of information in this book and younger readers may need help processing everything. For older readers, middle and high school, this graphic novel could lead to some great discussions. It would also make a great addition to a text set on the topic of social justice. 

I received a review copy from Annick Press and NetGalley. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
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Manuelito is a grade-school boy from a rural Mayan village in the highlands of Guatemala. His community was rife with violence from various groups including the armed civil patrol (PACs, in Spanish), Maras (gangs), and drug dealers. This story portrays the reality of illegal immigration as a consequence of widespread violence, poverty, and drug trafficking. Manuelito’s school closed and with nowhere else to go and nothing else to do at his age, his family decided to send him to the US to live with his aunt.

After days of traveling both with and without the assistance of a coyote (people smuggler), he was able to traverse the perilous journey from his village to arrive miraculously in Long Island, NY. He took buses, endured days of traveling with strangers, crossed/swam rivers to get across, and walked for miles just to arrive at his destination.

He was separated with his close friend, Coco Loco and were not afforded the truth to his friend’s demise. Time and again, he wondered where his friend could have gone, if he were taken back to Guatemala, sold to gang members, or worse… He had also encountered other individuals who had stories as tragic as his; rape victims or runaways from identical types of violence.

Nonetheless, the story ending was depressing. Despite having reached his destination and were finally living in an ideal world with his aunt, he had to face the harsh truth that US authorities were in constant search of undocumented immigrants to send back to their originating countries.


I liked the book cover. At first glance, I saw an innocent boy who had a story to share. It seemed auspicious based on other things such as the two boys running together on the bottom of the spread, men on the background who might be working at their fields, and a peaceful village behind them. Alas, it is a lie and quite the opposite is true.

Manuelito’s story may be that of just one person but it is similar to the hundreds of thousands of people, including unaccompanied minors, who cross the US borders on an annual basis. We get slight glimpses of his journey from his Mayan village to Long Island, succinct and to the point, accompanied by short descriptions.


The advanced review copy (ARC) had blurry images, some drawings were indistinguishable even. The illustrations seemed like they were outlines and were drawn over images. The stories and descriptions were written in ALL CAPS! I don’t think I’ve ever read a book (or most of it) that was written in all capital letters. There were more than enough instances of bad grammar and incomplete sentences (or no sentence structures). The dialogue bubbles could also have been structured and arranged better for me to be able to follow along with the conversations.

Unfortunately for me, this story needed more depth to be memorable. It is very timely to what crisis the US is facing on its borders but this graphic novel did not successfully embody that crisis and failed to execute a more affecting storytelling.

I give this book 3 (out of 5) stars.

Images copyright: Elisa Amado and Annick Press Ltd. I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. #Manuelito #NetGalley
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This graphic novel is about a boy and a friend whose family pay a bad coyote to help them get to Guatemalan to the United States. His Country is not safe for young boys who are often led into gangs or killed. This story describes their journey to America and even what happens when they get there. 
I really enjoy reading and learning about what going on in our border towns and immigration. I felt like this story lacked some details or description in the writing to get me feeling just a little emotional  or feelings on what is going on. Yes it is really sad. I see it on the news read it on the internet. I wanted to feel it in this story. I thought the pictures were beautiful but wish they would has been in color to see more detail.

Received a review copy from Annick Press and Netgalley. All thoughts are my own.
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Manuelito follows the story of a young Guatemalan boy, Manuelito, who is forced to leave his country because of the terror created by PACs and drug gangs, and shows what happens to immigrants (in this case, from Guatemala) just when they cross the border. This graphic novel encapsulates current immigration crisis, making it relevant and horrifyingly real. While the story focuses on only one person, it nevertheless highlights the horrors of what refugees/immigrants/asylum seekers go through today. It’s heart-wrenching. It captures the realness of human trepidation and suffering that go alongside the notion of what happens when one faces the unknown. Manuelito as a graphic novel is perfect for middle and junior high school students who, hopefully, by reading this will build on empathy for the less privileged and gain an understanding of what others go through in order to reach safety. 

Thank you NetGalley and Annick Press for this eARC. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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In this graphic novel by Elisa Amado, illustrated by Abraham Urias, Manuelito is a thirteen-year-old boy growing up in a tiny village in Guatemala.  His family is extremely worried.  The armed civil patrol, otherwise known as PACs, have terrorized the civilians during the country’s civil war and even made one of Manuelito’s cousins disappear.  Recently, drug gangs have begun cropping up.  Backed by the corrupt government, the gangs have begun taking over the village, enlisting anyone who is old enough and making those who refuse disappear.  
	Worried that Manuelito is in danger, his parents decide to send him to America to live with his aunt.  They hire a human smuggler, otherwise known as a coyote, to help him make the dangerous journey from Guatemala to Mexico and then on to America.  Unfortunately, Manuelito is about to learn that the journey to the States may actually be more dangerous than staying in his home town in Guatemala.  
	The story of Manuelito is current and the drama real.  Every day, refugees from Guatemala, el Salvador and Honduras make the perilous journey in search of asylum, but never make it to their destination.  Those who do make it often run the risk of being turned back with nowhere to go.  The desperation is real and the plight is horrible.  
Unfortunately, this graphic novel is not going to really do the story of these refugees justice.  Though Manuelito does an adequate job of explaining the horrific things these refugees must go through just to try and reach their destination, let alone be allowed to stay, it is not emotional enough.  It doesn’t tug at the reader’s heartstrings.  Manuelito’s story is not fleshed out enough.  The author does not do enough to endear the character to her readers.  
Unfortunately, in today’s world, people need to feel connected to the character in some way to feel any sort of sympathy for their plight.  They need to be able to relate to that character and want to root for their success before they can feel the need to join their cause.  I think the story was too rushed.  Had the story been a little bit longer…perhaps told over two volumes…maybe it would draw more attention to the plight of the refugees and make more people want to aid them in their cause.  As it stands now, it just tells the story, but does little to stir the emotions.
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Manuelito tells the story of a young teenager living in Guatemala and the dangers he faces in his community. His parents pay a coyote (human trafficker) to accompany Mauelito from his home in Guatemala to the United States border where he seeks asylum. The story told in graphic novel format details the events that take place during the trip and also after his arrival at his aunt's house in Long Island, New York.

The author places blame on the United States government under Obama and Trump for the poor treatment and living conditions experienced by unaccompanied minors who enter the United States illegally seeking asylum from their homeland. Events in the story may act as emotional triggers for individuals who have family members in similar circumstances. The conversations that come out of the shared reading of this story may be heated, political, and emotionally charged. It would be a good fit in a related text set in a high school course.

The digital galley I received from NetGalley was in black and white except for the book cover and the text was typewritten rather than in a font I typically see in graphic novels so I cannot comment on the visual aspect of this graphic novel. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing the digital galley.
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This is the book for the person who doesn't understand the importance of the border crisis. We follow this boy from the dangers of his neighborhood, the dangers of the journey north, and the struggles of adjusting to life in a new country. Now this is not the only book that explores that journey. In fact, I'd say ti doesn't do that part particularly well. It's the ending that makes the difference.
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Thank you to NetGalley for a free digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

I would consider this an illustrated chapter book versus a graphic novel. The digital ARC I read had B&W pencil type sketches. I’m not sure how the final print product looks. The story itself is about 13-year-old boy and his journey from Guatemala through Mexico and in to the US. The “voice” of Manuelito is very short sentences and reminds me of how someone writes when English is their second language or some middle grade writers which I assume is intentional since both characteristics fit.

 I would recommend this for older middle school or high school kids. There is violence though mostly "off-page", heavy themes, brief mention of rape. I understand the train of events where Manuelito asked for asylum at the border, then went to jail, then transferred to a kid center where he started taking some kind of class, then the kid center closed, he went to his aunt, goes to school one day and then ICE showed up. Then they were immediately flown back to Guatemala without any mention of court for seeking asylum or why it wasn’t granted. Why was Manuelito just “released” from the border jail to some teen center with classes and then sent to his aunt? I don’t believe the Border Patrol just randomly releases kids to centers who can then send the kids on buses. It just seemed like there needs to be more details to fill in the gaps to make it a more believable or understandable process to help the reader better understand the reality of Manuelitos situation.

 I think the message of understanding why people risk their lives to come to the US is extremely important right now. My husband is an immigrant from Mexico and I have some in-laws that are in the country with a variety of immigration statuses. However, some of the commentary I felt was a little much even to prove a political point. I don’t think ICE officers actually say out loud “You are illegals! You are going back where you came from! We don’t want you here.” The ending of this book has a couple pages of very strong and pointed political opinion which is punctuated with some historical facts. It is hard to separate the facts from the opinions in this section. I like the concept of this book and feel it is timely and necessary but I just feel it was too pointedly politically motivated and instead of causing sympathy with the readers who NEED to read it and understand, they may just get turned off by the big swings in events and gaps in sequence of events.
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Lately, it has been a relevant time for books. Books like White Rose from @kipwilsonwrites and Internment by @sam_aye_ahm give us glimpses into both the past and one of our not so great futures. Manuelito, published by @annick_press is here to tell you about the present.

TW: Mild Violence (off page)

In the present, headlines about refugees and immigration plague our news feeds and our TVs but sometimes we forget. Those headlines are also people, children, with harrowing stories to tell and one of them is Manuelito. 

You follow Manuelito on his journey from Guatemala to the US to seek asylum, it isn't easy and a lot of things happen on the way. The simple images look like Manuelito could have drawn them, and written at a vocabulary level similar to a child's, you get the feeling that Manuelito is speaking to you. In 97 pages this graphic novel is not asking you to change all your beliefs but it is asking you to take a moment, step into their shoes and understand how the world looks like from where they are standing. It might make you wonder, how would you feel if this was your only way out?

Topics Discussed in the book:

Background Stories- Not only do you see Manuelito's journey but you see why the decision was made, but his story is not the only one given light.

Conditions for Child refugees-  We have seen it all over the news, but while its news to you, its reality for them. 

Safety of Passage- The trip from Guatemala to the US is not easy, and the book does not shy away from showing some of the possible scenarios.

5/5 ❤❤❤❤❤

In the end, I gave this book a perfect rating because it is relevant because with its 97 pages it is accessible to everyone, reader and non-reader alike. Books like this need to exist so their stories can be told, so people can relate and stop thinking it has nothing to do with them. Thousands of children and refugees die attempting to seek Asylum in the US every year. I am just asking you to read one story. It could make a difference.
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Beautiful art and a nice story. Not my favorite graphic novel of the year, but it was well done. The reality of war is heartbreaking to read and see in any format. It is worth the read.
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A  powerful story of a child refugee seeking asylum in America Thirteen-year-old Manuelito is a gentle boy who lives with his family in a tiny village in the Guatemalan countryside. But life is far from idyllic: PACs--armed civil patrol--are a constant presence in the streets, and terrifying memories of the country's war linger in the villagers' collective conscience. Things deteriorate further when government-backed drug gangs arrive and take control of the village. Fearing their son will be forced to join a gang, Manuelito's parents make the desperate decision to send him to live with his aunt in America. With just a bus ticket and a small amount of cash in hand, Manuelito begins his hazardous journey to Mexico, then the U.S., in search of asylum. But in the end, dangers such as the crooked "coyote"--or human smuggler--his parents have entrusted their son's life to may be nothing compared to the risks Manuelito faces when he finally reaches America. Manuelito's titular character is just one of the staggering one hundred thousand children from the Northern Triangle of Central America--Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras--who have made this perilous journey to escape their war-torn countries. Many are now detained in Mexico, separated from their parents and without access to lawyers, facing the unthinkable prospect of being sent back to the homes and the danger they risked so much to escape. Drawing on years of experience working with child refugees like Manuelito, Elisa Amado's powerful story, illustrated with striking poignancy by Abraham Urias, brings to light the dire circumstances of so many children, so close to home.
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The first thing that I would suggest, is that when reading the book, get a physical copy instead of eBook.  I don't know why, but graphic novels do not work well in eBook format.  Aside from that, Manuelito is definitely a book that I would recommend for purchase to my library.  For any teacher who is trying to introduce the subject of immigration and refugees to children and middle schoolers, this  would be the book that I would recommend. Elisa Amado does a great job describing the plight of that Manuelito  and his family are facing both in Guatemala and in the United States.  There is also a great amount of historical information that the children will be able to read about which explains why people have to immigrate from this area to the United States.  I also enjoyed reading about the author's background and why doing stories like Mauelito is so important to her.  This will help the reader to have an even stronger connection to Manuelito.
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I received a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Manuelito’s story is an unfortunate reality for so many asylum seekers today. The struggle to get to safety, followed by inhumane treatment upon arriving in the US. A simply told story, but an important one.

I love the scratchy quality of the illustrations in Manuelito, but wish there was less stark juxtaposition between the text and the art.
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This book was gut wrenching and extremely relevant to the current immigration situation.  It tells the story in a straight forward and powerful manner that will stay with the reader for a long time.  I am highly anticipating the final version of the book and will be purchasing for my library.
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#manuelito is a quick graphic novel about a boy from Guatemala who is sent to America for his safety. It describes his journey with the coyote his parents pay to take him across the borders. It details the difficulties of that journey, the fear that he has, the separation, and the danger. I wish the artistry was a little cleaner and the text seemed a little basic, but it is still a book I would recommend to my 6th grade students. Thank you #netgalley for a preview of this book to review.
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Manuelito's story is a timely one - especially for raising empathetic awareness for students who have not gone through the experience of living in a dangerous place, leaving their families, and making the terrifying journey to the United States. The book ends abruptly after Manuelito is deported by ICE back to Guatemala - his future is unknown, but his family is devastated. I think the graphic novel format really lends itself well to this kind of biographical story; the text is not overwhelming, the pictures expressive, and overall the book is far from daunting reader-wise. I'm really looking forward to hearing from some of the teens I serve about Manuelito - I'm sure there are more kids than I could imagine who will see their own stories mirrored in this book.
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