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Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

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12-year-old Petra Luna is struggling to keep her family together. When the violent  Mexican Federales burn her village in the revolution of 1913, Petra must flee with her grandmother, little sister and baby brother.  Not knowing where to turn, the family seeks refuge wherever they can find it. One day, dreams Petra, she would love to learn to read and become a teacher. For now, she must help her family survive. Will her simple dreams ever become reality? The struggles of children during wartime are dramatically portrayed in this middle-grade novel based on a nearly-forgotten true story.
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Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is gripping and heartrending, with just enough hope to keep readers engaged and turning pages. There are not many books that address the Mexican Revolution, especially not for students, so this book is also informative. The author states that this book is based on the stories her grandmother and great-grandmother told her in her childhood about how dangerous life was during the Mexican Revolution, including the family's decision to flee their destroyed village in hopes of reaching the US Border before being slaughtered by the Federales, Petra has dreams, though, of learning to read and write and having a better future than her ancestors. Her Abuelita tells her these are barefoot dreams, though, meaning that she should just accept her lot in life as an impoverished, illiterate girl, meant to marry and care for a husband and children, because that is what she is destined for. I love Petra's determination, She is not content to have that type of life, and she cannot understand why that is what she is encouraged to do by someone who loves her. Young girls who are told that they can't fulfill their dreams due to their circumstances will see themselves in this book and will understand that they can be so much more if they believe in themselves. Petra has promised her father, who was conscripted to fight for the Federales in order to protect his family, that she will care for her Abuelita, her  younger sister and her baby brother, and she is determined to keep this promise. She is also determined that she will better herself and create opportunities for her family's future. The suspenseful ending of this book, also based on true events, which offers hope for that future, might seem a little overly optimistic, especially when we saw how immigrants are treated upon arriving to our country. Perhaps they, too, feel that every opportunity will be theirs upon crossing the border, though. While the ending might have that feel to it, the events leading up to it are not sugar-coated when it comes to the violence and hardships faced by Petra and the people she travels with. This will be a solid middle-school book for creating empathy when it comes to immigration and poverty.
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I went into this not knowing much more about the Mexican Revolution, other than it happened. So, it was delightful to learn about what happened, via the story of an Indigenous young girl who had to escape with her grandmother and sister and brother to America, so they wouldn't be killed by the Federals, the army of the bad guys.

I loved that we got to see a revolutionary that was a woman commander, and that she invited Petra to join the army.

It is a sad book, to be sure, but Petra has strength, and you keep cheering for her along the way.

Based on the life of her great grandmother, during the Mexican Revolution of 1913, she was amazed, when doing research to find how much of her great-grandmother's story was true.

<em>Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.</em>
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Excellent story that will help middle grade readers learn about an aspect of history not commonly taught in American schools. Yet, the book transcends the history and presents a longing for peace and  freedom  that   is universal.. While  the writing is not particularly literary, it seems appropriately accessible to the intended audience. 

Thanks for the advanced copy from the publisher!
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A beautiful, powerful story which highlights the plight of immigrants across the world. The author should be applauded.
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What a beautiful masterpiece! Alda P. Dobbs shines light on the plight of all immigrants. This book was made for such a time as this!
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I enjoyed reading about Petra Luna's quest to bring her family to safety and being a Latinamerican woman myself I could relate to some of the things she went through.  This is a book very easy to read, I whizzed through it in one day and I found myself invested in the security of her family.
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<i>The Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna</i> follows a girl and her family as they run from danger at nearly every turn. A sobering story where innocents must flee from their government. This doesn't shy away from details during the upheaval so be sure to check content warnings below. 

While the events of the book were thrilling and nerve-wracking by nature and I was invested in the family's safety, the writing of this novel was nothing special. It doesn't distract from the plot but it doesn't add anything either. This is a basic historical fiction novel so the draw is the plot and the historical context, not the writing or character development. 

This fictionalizes the author's great grandmother's life in in 1913, but so many of the scenes remind me of modern day struggles for freedom and safety. Change a few organisation's names and you've got the migrant crisis in 2021. Seeing the struggle of Mexican families ripple through history this way is heartbreaking. This book would be great to read in classes alongside history lessons about the Mexican Revolution. Or pair books like <i>Land of the Cranes</i> with this historical one to teach the connection between historical and present injustices. 


Thank you NetGalley for the e-arc of this title! 


<b>Content warning</b>: parent/child separation, parent death, scenes surrounding poverty and homelessness, scenes with arson, gun violence, children in danger, explosions/train accident, scenes with injuries and blood, children dying, food scarcity, threat of starvation.
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“When Life’s big problems squeeze you hard, you grow stronger. You grow up to shine like a diamond.” Petra, shines like a diamond,   leading her two siblings, and Abuela away from the Federales, a story about getting stronger through life's challenges. @AldaPDobbs
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I learned about the Mexican Revolution in college but I feel like I understand so much more after reading this book geared towards Middle graders. Petra and her family’s journey is heartbreaking, and even more so after reading the author’s note on how it is based on the true story passed down by her ancestors. The main character is an inspiring example of hope and strength, as she tries to escape the Federales and get her grandmother and siblings to the American border, and hopefully to safety. Mexican history is seamlessly woven into the story that takes place in the early 1900s. This book would be an excellent companion resource to history lessons from that time period.
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This is a book that I felt extremely privileged to be reading. I absolutely loved everything about this book, the writing, the characters and the research into and around the Mexican Revolution and some of the not very well known situations and history. This is a poignant story which will touch your heart and gives you a glimpse into what Mexican people went through during the Mexican Revolution. This book touched me like a few books have before. I am from Mexico and this book was able to take me away and bring me back to my culture and to the beliefs of my ancestors.

Petra Luna is an extraordinary main character. She is brave, resourceful, smart, caring, honest and determined to keep a promise and to fight for her dreams despite being only 12 years old. Petra is a young girl who has to take responsibility for looking after her abuelita (grandmother), younger sister and baby brother by herself. The story tells us how they had to flee their town as the Federals (government soldiers) destroyed everything during the Mexican Revolution and it gives us a perspective into Mexican society and how poor people had to live and survive. While reading this book I had so many feelings such as anger, sadness and happiness and you can only get this from a story that is well written and heartfelt.

I encourage any middle graders and adults in general to read this heart-warming and heart-breaking story that will inspire you to believe in yourself.

An interesting fact about this story is that it had been inspired by the experiences of the author’s great-grandmother and what she endured during the Mexican Revolution.
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Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs is a historical fiction, #ownvoices story of the author's great-grandmother who trekked across Mexico during the 1913 revolution towards the U.S. border.  This is an important chapter book that is excellent for grades 3 and up.  Although this is a refugee, war story, readers can still relate to the characters and their emotions since they are all universal themes of family, friendship, hope and love.

12 year-old Petra whose mother passed away a year ago is grappling with the trauma of her father being forced to fight in the revolution.  Alone in her village with her aging grandmother and two younger siblings, Petra is forced to lookout for their well-being.  Her father promises to return as she remembers his words before he left, "in a world full of darkness and uncertainty, there's always enough rom for one more promise."  Petra clings to the hope of reuniting with her father after the war.  Readers can discuss times when they were forced to say goodbye to loved ones and what that felt like.  Did they make plans to stay in touch or reunite one day?  Why does that offer comfort?

When the Federales, "the monsters" who are the army for the government of Huerta, attack their village, Petra and her family must flee or be killed.  Petra thinks, "My home, my life--everything I knew was gone.  There was nothing to come back to.  I thought about Papa and prayed that one day we'd find each other."  Readers can try to imagine what they would do in Petra's situation.  Would they stay close-by in case her father returned or risk losing touch with him if they left their village?  

 Using their wits and knowledge of their ancestors, they make their way north meeting various groups of people along the way who offer advice, hope and friendship to Petra who desperately needs the encouragement.  "...sincere friendships can sprout even amid the darkest moments and places."  These friends provide a safe space for Petra to share her insecurities and develop a sense of confidence in her abilities.  Readers can share people in their lives who offer this support and even think about who they offer their support to, as well.

The story is quite well-told with Spanish words and folklore mixed in that adds authenticity to the characters and their mindsets.  The relationship that Petra has with her grandma and younger siblings is touching and relatable for many readers.  She faces prejudice for being darker-skinned so others look down upon her.  Readers can discuss ways in which prejudice still exists in the world today.  How does that affect how people earn money to support their families?

The author's note at the end explains more about how Dobbs' great-grandmother escaped the war and fled to the U.S.  She provides a timeline that explains the complicated history of power in Mexico and is helpful for even adults to read and understand.  I hope that this book makes its way into many classrooms, libraries, and book clubs.  Refugee perspectives are so often left out of history books that the more we have them, the better we can empathize with their circumstances.  Here is a free teaching guide that goes with the book for more ideas on how to use it with students.
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I love a good historical fiction read, and Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is just that! This Own Voices novel takes place during the Mexican Revolution and follows Petra Luna as she leads her family away from the Federales towards safety in the United States.

For a YA book, there was a wonderful balance between history and story-telling.   I was surprised by how well Dobbs conveyed the violence, fear, and suspense many Mexican faced during the revolution with age-appropriate dialogue and content.  I felt all the emotions while reading this book, and believed in each character.  I recommend this authentic book to young and adult readers alike!

TW:  violence, death
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Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
Written by Alda P. Dobbs
Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers
Ages 8+
Available September 14, 2021

War, Promises, and Aspirations: A Review of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

It is September 1913, and the Mexican Revolution is well underway. Mexico is in the thick of the war between the Federales (the cruel army of Mexican President Victoriano Huerta), and the Revolucionarios (army of the people, fighting for liberty). In the small village of Esperanzas, we find 12-year-old Petra Luna. Her lifelong dream is to go to school and learn to read, but she must put it on hold to take on the responsibility of caring for her grandmother, younger sister, and baby brother. With her mother’s passing and her father forced to join the Federales, Petra made a promise to provide for her family and keep them safe. She struggles to keep this promise when the Federales attack Esperanzas and Petra and her family must flee with only the clothes on their backs. They trek the desert barefoot, finding temporary safe havens only to have to leave when danger arises. Petra must fight every minute of the day to protect her family, but she is determined to get them to America and away from the war. Will she be able to cross the Mexican-American border, keep her promise, and bring her dreams to fruition?

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is a story of bravery, courage, truth, and generosity in the face of adversity; not shying away from tough subjects like death, murder, famine, and people with cruel hearts and minds. Narrated by a mature 12-year-old voice, Petra’s journey illustrates that sometimes in life you will have to deal with harsh realities, but you can find direction and peace by connecting with your roots. Readers will know the power of independence, believing in themselves, and staying true to who they are. Inspired by the experiences of Alda Dobbs’ great grandmother, it serves as a cultural history lesson. Dobbs uses Spanish words throughout the book to show Petra’s culture and teach non-native speakers a little bit of the Spanish language. Dobbs shares the details of her great grandmother’s story in the author’s note and also includes a timeline of real-life events that took place during the Mexican Revolution. Barefoot Dreams is an important read for children not only to learn a significant part of Mexican history but also to learn the strength of being loyal to family, being unselfish, and keeping promises.
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Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Kids for an eARC in exchange for review. All opinions are my own, as usual.

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is a powerful novel about a girl trying to save her family during the Mexican Revolution. Having never read a book about this historical event, I'm glad I chose this one first. The author uses the stories her ancestors told her about the time to write the book. This is very clear in the emotions jumping off the page. The book explains the political climate, but focuses mostly on the experiences of innocent civilians fighting for their lives crossing the desert, something you would not get from a textbook. This is a new auto-recommendation read for me. 

TW: War, death of infants, injury, discussions of hanging
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

Set in 1913 in northern Mexico during the Revolutionary War, Petra and her family flee their small town when the Federales arrive and destroy everything in their path. Desperate to find a safe place and protect her family, Petra leads them north toward the Mexico/US border with the hope of escaping into a country where there is hope for a brighter future. Petra’s resilience through harsh desert conditions, violence, and destruction proves that hope is a powerful force against the injustices of war. 

The story is based on the real-life experiences of the author’s great-grandmother, and it’s an important piece of history to know. Young readers will get a better understanding of why many families escaped from Mexico to the United States, and it sheds some perspective on the issues that continue today. Petra has so much responsibility placed on her, and yet she continues to meet each challenge with bravery and hope for the future. She inspired me with her desire to learn to read and her loyalty to her family when she wanted to join the Revolutionarios and fight to save her country. 

I would recommend this book for upper middle grade readers who enjoy reading historical fiction and stories about young people who face the challenge of war.
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One of my reading challenges has the reader cover a wide variety of genres and specific types of books. One was an Own Voices book. When NetGalley offered Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna to me, I knew I’d found the perfect type of Own Voices book: historical fiction of events for which I had no knowledge, reading about another culture, a middle grade/YA book about a child coming of age. I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Wow. Just wow. This book was just incredible. I could not put it down, I could not believe it was a children’s book. I could seriously see this book winning the Newbery medal next year. That’s how good it is.

Petra is a very strong young lady that has had to grow up fast. There’s been a revolution going on for a while (in 1913 Mexico), her mother died during childbirth the year before, and her father was taken away by the Federales to fight for them or face death. Petra is left living with her grandmother, her 6-year old sister and 1-year old brother. It’s up to her to keep food on the table. She does this by chopping firewood and selling it.

Then the Federales come to town and take everything of value from the homes before they burn down the village. Petra and her family are forced to take to the road to find the next town with a train station. Along their trip through the desert, the come upon a church which provides respite for a few days. Then, the priest kicks them out because the Federales are on their way. They need to find the train station, which requires a few days walking in the desert with very little water or food.

The family runs into some members of Pancho Villa’s revolutionary forces and Petra is asked to become a soldier. Instead, she says the family will make it’s way to the Rio Bravo and cross it to America to escape the revolution. Once they get to the border, the price to cross is so large, there’s no way they can afford it. To top it off, the few rebel soldiers in town at the border are leaving, and the Federales are on the way.

The tension throughout the book is palpable. The danger Petra’s family faces at every turn seems insurmountable. This is a gripping tale, where if you don’t know the history of Mexico’s revolution, and even if you do, you might not know this particular tale. The author says this book was inspired by family events that had been passed down orally. Then Dobbs researched the information and found a newspaper article describing the events she’s been hearing about for years confirming the family story.

I highly recommend this book, not just for children, but for adults, too It’s a harrowing tale that needs to be old.

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna will be released in September 2021.
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In 1913, the revolutionary war is raging in Mexico. Twelve-year-old Petra Luna’s father has been conscripted into the Federal army against his will and may never return. Petra’s mother had died in childbirth less than a year before leaving Petra with an infant brother to raise along with her six-year-old sister Amelia. Her grandmother, Abuelita, helps as much as her arthritic knees can manage, but the bulk of the work falls on Petra’s young shoulders. 

When the Federales burn down Petra’s town, they’re forced to flee into the desert with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Thanks to Abuelita’s knowledge of desert life, they find the water-dense plants that keep them alive long enough to reach safety in a church. 

While there, among the hundreds of refugees, Petra makes friends with Adeline, an American girl, who teaches Petra how to write her name. This small taste of literacy fuels Petra’s determination to go to school someday. However, her grandmother scoffs at her dream and tells her to accept her lot in life. Petra is angry that her that her beloved Abuelita doesn’t support her ambitions. This battle between the traditional ways and Petra’s desire to have a better life added depth and tension to this refugee survival tale. 

Petra is one of the strongest and most courageous characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet in a middle grade novel. Her resilience and resourcefulness was inspiring even as I recoiled from the hardships that Petra and her family experience. The vibrant, realistic descriptions had me feeling every bleeding blister and gnawing, empty stomach. 

Based on the true story of the author’s great-grandmother, this intense and terrifying journey of Petra and her family was hard to read, and yet, even harder to put down. Culturally rich, character-driven, and fast-paced, this is a must-read for historic fiction fans especially because of the unique setting of the Mexican revolution.
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This is a very powerful book about a young girl who is born in raised in Mexico.  She has big dreams and an even bigger heart. She has undergone much suffering and difficulty but refuses to give up on her Barefoot Dreams.  This is a very serious book with big issues and a lot of violence.  It is a book that is not for the sensitive child or faint of heart as it deals with very realistic consequences of war and hostility. It has a great message and is a ray of hope amidst a very difficult background.
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Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is an inspiring story of promises, determination, and one incredible girls bravery and courage as she leads her family north to safety.  It tells the story of Petra, a twelve-year- old girl who's been struggling over the loss of her mother who died giving birth to her younger brother and whose father was taken by Federale soldiers to join the revolution.  That was six months ago, but the pain is still raw.  Papa promised Petra he would return,  since then she's been fulfilling her promise to take care of the family by collecting wood which she sells for food.  Petra has been holding on to the piece of coal he gave her, and to her dream of one day learning to read, maybe to even become a teacher.  Then one day, Federales come to their small village looking for young men to join the war, upset that the men are all gone, they burn down the village,  forcing Petra and her family to flee into the hills.  Thus begins the harrowing trek that takes Petra and her family across treeless lands, with the sun bearing down on them, and little provisions or water to even sustain them, all while hiding from the Federales and avoiding scorpions, coyotes and rattlesnakes.  

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna was inspired by stories told to the author by her grandmother and great-grandmother growing up.  The main character, Petra Luna, was also inspired by the historical events surrounding the author's own families escape from their burning village after being attacked by Federale soldiers in 1913 during the Mexican Revolution.  Per the authors note at the end of the book, in 1913 there were over 6,000 people trying to cross over a bridge into the United States when the gates were closed.  It wasn't until the Federales showed up threatening people along the border that they were allowed entrance into the U.S.   Petra's story is a heartfelt, compelling historical fiction that seems to mirror current events at the Mexican American border.  Even now refugees are enduring the harsh desert on foot, hoping to reach the border and be granted entrance to seek asylum in the United States.  Though the story is written about events that took place a long time ago, it's written in a way that is easily accessible to younger children and will help build empathy. 
*A huge thank you to the author and publisher for the E-ARC*
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