Cover Image: Isla to Island

Isla to Island

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Member Reviews

*Thank you NetGalley and publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review*

This was an interesting read as it was a wordless graphic novel. It told the story of a girl named Marisol, who was escaping from Cuba to New York City during Castro's regime. Marisol experiences culture shock, but as she makes friends and finds things that bring her joy, the graphic novel becomes more colorful as well. The illustrations carried the story, and it was a lovely, quick read!
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Until Fidel Castro’s rise to power in 1959, Marisol enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Cuba with her devoted parents, delighting in the sights, lush surroundings, and delicacies of her beloved island home. But to protect her amidst food shortages and increasing violence, her parents make the heart wrenching decision to send their daughter to Brooklyn with “Operation Peter Pan” in 1961. The transition from “isla to island” is not an easy one for Marisol. She faces a language barrier, bullies, and her first taste of winter. Author/illustrator Allexis Castellanos depicts early scenes in Habana in bright, appealing colors, but Marisol’s world becomes a dismal black and white when she arrives in New York City. Spots of color (a blossom here, a book there) emerge as she acclimates to her new surroundings, but adjusting takes time and plenty of tears. Luckily she is cared for by an older couple who, though they cannot replace Marisol’s family, are very kind. For example, the woman shows Marisol how to use Kotex pads when she gets her first period, and they take her to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens greenhouse to support her love for nature. A hopeful ending hints at Marisol’s bright future. This exceptionally lovely, mostly wordless graphic novel should not be missed!
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This beautiful book tells the story of a young girl who lived in Cuba and loved flowers but was sent to NYC to for her safety during turbulent times. This books is historical fiction and depicts Operation Peter Pan, whisking children away to keep them safe. In the story, it is hard for her to adjust to the cold bleak winter, with new children, & a new language. Eventually, she finds a way to connect to her new home and her foster family.

This books uses very few words, but does a fantastic job of using color or lack thereof to help tell the story. If historical fiction is popular in your community, this is a must purchase. It is an additional purchase otherwise.
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This wordless graphic novel beautifully tells the story of a young girl, Marisol, who must emigrate from Cuba to the United States alone at the behest of her parents. Her American foster parents struggle to connect with her at first as she is experiencing extreme culture shock and struggling to make friends in school. All of this is expressed in the contrast of the beautiful colorful pages depicting her home in Cuba and the dull grey hues of the pages showing her arrival to America. Life slowly becomes better (and full of color) for her as she discovers a love of nature and is able to indulge it at her school's library. 

This is an excellent graphic novel and a perfect example of how far imagery alone can cary a narrative. The illustrations perfectly communicate Marisol's feelings in each situation, especially her struggle to learn English. This is still a very relevant story and I would recommend it to any child as an introduction to graphic novels!
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For a graphic novel with no words, this told one heck of a story!

Isla to Island is about Marisol, a girl who is sent to America through Operation Peter Pan, a program designed to provide children safety during Castro's violent regime. She must adjust to a new home, a new school, and a new lifestyle, all while her family is still in Cuba, unable to make it safely to America to be with their daughter. 

Throughout this story, color is used to represent Marisol's emotions. The world is black and white when Marisol is feeling sad and hopeless, missing her family and being teased by her classmates. However, as she begins to find the things that bring her joy, her world begins to gain color, which I believe is a genius way to indicate emotion without using words. 

I believe all audiences can appreciate this story, especially those who are new in their environments themselves or those who want to learn more about Operation Peter Pan, which was the largest exodus of children of the 20th century. The author provides books for further reading on the topic, and includes her mother's story, which was the inspiration for this one. This is such an essential read, and I highly encourage anyone who may want to to give this one a try.
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An almost wordless tale of a Cuban young girl sent to America to escape Castro's Cuba as part of Operation Petro Pan ( Peter Pan) and her life in the United States after her rescue. She did not understand a lot of what was going on at first, but was able to acclimate to her new life. A tale of an era that is not really studied in schools. This book is a good addition to an elementary school library.
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The art style found within this graphic novel is captivating! Moving from bright cheerful colors to greyscale to the gradual reintroduction of color was masterful. I anticipate that many children will enjoy experiencing this graphic novel about the forced immigrant experience of a solo child and the adoption of a new world while maintaining connections to the old world. Highly recommend this to all children's librarians.
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I was very impressed with this graphic novel! There was incredible symbolism in the use of color, and I LOVED it! I also really appreciated the use of different languages and quite frankly the lack of use at times! This is a story that touched on a lot of topics- refugee in a new country, depression, menstruation, and finding happiness again. It was so well thought out and drawn; it truly blew me away! Highly recommend!!
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What an incredible coming-of-age graphic novel! Marisol's story is told with almost no dialogue, but the beautiful artwork and use of color bring to life Marisol's experiences and emotions.  At the beginning, we see Marisol growing up in Cuba with her loving parents, who encourage her love of books and flowers. But in 1961, Havana becomes a dangerous place and her parents send her to live with strangers in Brooklyn, New York, through Catholic Relief Services.  Marisol's world turns gray (and so does the art) when she arrives in America in the dead of winter. Her foster parents are kind, but struggle with the language barrier while Marisol struggles in English classes, Catholic school, and missing her parents.  Breakthroughs come as Marisol starts her period (you can't help but love her foster mother in this highly relatable scene), discovers the school library, and her foster parents take her to visit a greenhouse. Color has begun to seep into her world, but it is not until spring arrives (and a long-awaited letter from her parents) that Marisol herself returns to color. School becomes easier, she has a fun-filled summer (the photos from her summer adventures are brilliant), and begins the 7th grade with confidence and a sense of her own identity. 
The story is bookended with photo album-style pages showing Marisol's family before and after, giving readers a bigger picture of Marisol's life. The author's note explains the history of Operation Peter Pan and her own family connection to the program that provided homes for Cuban children in danger during the early years of Castro's regime. 
I've read this stunningly gorgeous graphic novel three times already and could read it again and again. Because so much of the story is told through the artwork, I notice new details and meanings each time I read it. It's an incredible, important story not just for its historical significance but for America's present internal battles over immigration and who should be included in this country of immigrants.
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Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this graphic novel.

This beautifully illustrated wordless graphic novel tells readers about Operation Peter Pan, when over a thousand unaccompanied Cuban children came to America in the early 1960s. The main character, Marisol, leaves her tropical home and settles in dreary, wintery New York City. She doesn't speak English and she misses Cuba and her family terribly. Her new life is lonely. Castellanos depicts this perfectly through a lack of color in her illustrations. When Marisol discovers some comforting things in her new home, her world becomes brighter and more colorful. This book would be an excellent resource for art teachers to use when discussing the importance of color.
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Part history, part ode to books. This story was beautifully told through illustrations and fantastic use of color. It honestly felt very heartwarming to read. There are barely any words in this graphic novel, but it didn't need words to tell a moving story. One of the most beautiful graphic novels I have ever read
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this Graphic Novel. 4/5 stars. 

First of all, this is wordless. There are no dialogue boxes. The art is stunning. Since there is no dialogue, it truly is a quick read; however, it does require processing. It almost is simply viewing the art of the story and thinking about how the pictures depict Marisol's different experiences. I think this would pair well with primary sources from Pedro Pan (sending Cuban children during the 1950s to the US) as a reference material, as I can see younger grades struggling to comprehend the intense emotional elements of Marisol's story. 

I also love the art and the colors, and how the colors build into the story. Fading from bright and colorful in Cuba to a greyscale until Marisol rediscovers plants and botany and begins to adjust to living in NYC. I also like during the greyscale portion how red is the color of her flower and it slowly becomes more and more colorful. 

I probably should have read (read?) this slower, but the eARC was a flat lay of it, so it didn't ease itself to reading; however, I really liked it!
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I was blown away by "Isla to Island." This wordless graphic novel tells the story of a young girl named Marisol as she flees Cuba for New York City. The use of color (and lack thereof) to represent the alienation Marisol feels and the sense of home that she comes to find is reminiscent of "The Wizard of Oz." Castellanos' choice to exclude text is bold and works so well for this story to make the reader feel Marisol's language barrier. I couldn't stop thinking "This is so cool!"
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This was a really unique take on a refugee story. Being almost completely wordless helped you feel what it was like for a person to come to a country where they know nothing and no one including the language. The illustrations and use of color were incredibly done. The time period and the information at the back brought to life a time and project that I knew little about. It made me want to start searching the history books for more information.
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This beautiful graphic novel uses words sparingly, and tells a full and little-known story with the mesmerizing illustrations.  The emotions and charisma are vibrantly depicted, and the author uses color contrasted against black and white to show the emotions in addition to the facial expressions.  

The main character, Marisol, is sent away from her family in Cuba due to violence and rebellions during the uprising of Fidel Castro.  At first the reader is kept in the dark of why she is sent away and what happened to her parents.  Instead we watch as she attempts to adapt to her new surroundings in the US, as well as learn a new language.  She is placed with foster parents who try to connect with her and care for her.  This support allows her to find joy in her surroundings as she acclimates.

In the end, the reader celebrates with Marisol and we learn what her circumstances were.  The author goes on to tell about Operation Peter Pan in her notes, and gives a fuller picture to the story of Cuba's youngest refugees.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks NetGalley!

Isla to Island is a story with nearly no words - dialogue or prose. It depicts the journey of a girl who is brought to the United States from Cuba as a part of Operación Pedro Pan, an effort to remove children from Cuba when the political tides turned in the 1960s with the rise of the Communist Party. The Catholic Church in the US coordinated a mass exodus of children in the hopes of someday reuniting them with their families.

Isla is one of those children. Sent to live with a warm and welcoming white couple in New York City, the story turns from a vibrant splash of colors to shares of grey. Isla struggles with fitting in, English, missing her home's flora and fauna, but most of all, missing her family. Her caretakers slowly start to coax Isla out of her shell and her sorrow, building a loving foster family and showing her some of natural beauty in New York.

My two biggest issues with the story are the artwork - it's not especially consistent from panel to panel. Characters particularly appeared inconsistent in a way that almost suggests the artist did not have a strong grasp of them or different people were working on different pages. It reminded me of how shows like Avatar the Last Airbender often have multiple animation studios working on different episodes in the same season and viewers could recognize that Zuko from episode 3 and Zuko from episode 4 were drawn by different hands in slightly different styles. It's disconcerting and distracting. I also didn't love the comic-y effects that were added throughout as a means of making up for dialogue. They didn't align with the tone of the rest of the story.

The story is sweet and heartwarming. I thought the use of color to depict Isla's struggles was very well-done, the organic scenes came across as lush and idylic while New York was very remote and isolating. I appreciated the lengthy author's notes giving context to the political problems in Cuba. I think perhaps some of these notes would have been more meaningful in the front of the story as a preface for readers who are less familiar with the historical context of Operation Peter Pan.

Overall, I think this is a fair graphic novel for any young history buff in your life, and certainly fills a gap of Latin American history that most kids aren't exposed to (I have opinions about the abundance of WWII graphic novels for children verses those surrounding other historical events, but that's for another time). I wouldn't necessarily ask my library to supply it, most people probably won't have any issue with it, I'm merely overly particular!
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This wordless graphic novel follows Marisol, a young girl sent alone to the US when her homeland of Cuba becomes increasingly unsafe. When she first arrives in New York, she is miserable. The winter weather is nothing like what she is used to, and she does not understand anyone around her. As time passes, she comes to realize that home does not have to be restricted to one place. Marisol loves plants and teaches herself English by checking out books about nature from her school’s library. Her foster parents notice this interest and show her areas of New York that are reminiscent of home, even in the winter, like a botanical garden. As time passes and the seasons change, Marisol comes to see the same vibrant nature she loved in Cuba come to life in her new home. The story ends as she finally works up the courage to introduce herself to her peers at school, closing with an epilogue shown through photos the depicts her parents arriving in the US and Marisol herself eventually starting a family in the US. 

The book is primarily wordless, with text being used at the start and ending to label photos that set the scene. As art is the primary storytelling vehicle, movement through the story occurs with varying paneling formats. The style of the art itself is simply with uncomplicated backgrounds making the story easy to follow. When Marisol first arrives in New York, the art becomes black and white, with occasional splashes of color when she sees things that remind her of home. Through this initial lack of color, the visuals embody how terrible Marisol feels. Over time, the color returns to the illustrations, initially through the plants that Marisol sees and books she reads that make her feel at home again. By the end, the illustrations are once again in full color. Back matter provides additional context to the wordless story. This includes an explanation of Operation Peter Pan, the real-life program that brought Cuban children to the US, along with an author’s note and list of historical sources for those who want to do further reading on the topic. Isla to Island presents a touching narrative about the immigrant experience without the use of text, which allows it to have appeal to young readers who may be overwhelmed by lengthy books about this important topic.
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Beautiful middle grade graphic novel about a young girl who flees her home and parents in Cuba for New York City during Fidel Castro's revolution. The story is told primarily through the illustrations and the use of color. The sparse words are in Spanish. Moving, heart-breaking, hopeful, this story will be a great catalyst for further learning about Cuban history and Operation Pedro Pan.
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The illustrations in this graphic novel tell an amazing story of resilience as a young girl discovers that “home” can have many different meanings.  Marisol’s parents choose to send her to the United States from their home in Cuba as life in their country becomes more dangerous.  Marisol struggles with foster parents, a new neighborhood, and a school in a country where she doesn’t speak the language.  The marvelous illustrations bring this story to life.
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“Isla to Island” vividly narrates Marisol’s experiences in America with very few words. Color is used to evoke emotion. We see Marisol’s trauma in grays and her triumph in brilliant pastels. An author’s note explains the program that transported children from a politically fragile Cuba to the United States. Recommended.
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