Babita knew that one day she, Papi, and Mami would fly to El Norte like the cranes, then “bad men could not harm them, and Abuelita would not worry.” Years later in the US, Papi is swept up in an ICE raid. When Babita and Mami are held in detention, Babita uses her picture stories to help her family find one another. This powerful novel in verse is affirming for immigrant children and those wanting to grow their worldview.
From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.
Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.
Then one day, Betita's beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?
About the Author
Aida Salazar is an award-winning author and arts activist whose writings for adults and children explore issues of identity and social justice. She is the author of the middle grade verse novels, The Moon Within (International Latino Book Award Winner), Land of the Cranes, and the biography picture book Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Revolutionary Fighter. She is slated to co-edit with Yamile Saied Méndez, Calling the Moon, a middle grade anthology on menstruation by writers of color. She is a founding member of Las Musas, a Latinx kidlit debut author collective. Her short story, "By the Light of the Moon", was adapted into a ballet production by the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and is the first Xicana-themed ballet in history. She lives with her family of artists in a teal house in Oakland, CA.
Praise for The Moon Within:
* "A worthy successor to Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret set in present-day Oakland... Salazar's verse novel is sensitive and fresh... An authentically middle school voice and diverse Latinx cast make this book a standout." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "An excellent addition for upper middle grade and middle school readers, especially for maturing tweens in the midst of puberty." -- School Library Journal, starred review
"This story is told in beautiful poems... A lovely, relatable story...The words really use up the space on the pages in creative ways, and the author reveals cultural aspects of Latinx (especially Xicana) and Caribbean peoples in rich detail." -- Booklist
"Lyrical...The characters leap to life and eloquently evoke the passion and pain of a girl's coming-of-age. Absolutely beautiful, reverent, and intensely personal, the book would make a valued gift for pre-teen readers, especially a young Latina." -- School Library Connection
"This is a fascinating tale that blends ancestral traditions from two cultures, while portraying modern dilemmas. Salazar's poetry is as lovely and graceful as the dance scenes." -- Margarita Engle, National Young People's Poet Laureate and Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree
"With conga-pulsed lyrics, Aida Salazar pulls us into the coming of age of eleven year Celi. She initiates readers into the conversation of Bomba, the girl-woman circle, divine twin energies and the many moon-tide powers of a Latina pre-teen. This is a book whose form and content, vision and depth, I find revolutionary and culturally ecstatic. In these times, here is the liberation verse our youth and all have been waiting for-Brava-Bravo!" -- Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate and author of Jabberwalking
"Aida Salazar has reached deep into our indigenous past to explore in beautiful, poignant poetry what it means to become a woman at the intersection of community and self. Rooted in ancestral lore yet vibrantly modern, The Moon Within is a touching, powerful, and important novel in verse." -- David Bowles, Pura Belpré Honor-winning author of The Smoking Mirror
"In a vivid, magical debut, Aida Salazar's lyrical poetry deftly pulls you into Celi's vibrant world as she reluctantly dances towards womanhood, adjusting to the drumbeats of first love and true friendship while exploring her ancestral roots as she finds her role within family and community." - Naheed H. Senzai, award-winning author of Shooting Kabul and Escape from Aleppo
"Lovely and amazing...a heartbreaker, in every wonderful way. Salazar's vivid and accessible verse brings us the coming-of-age story we've been longing for. Poignant, funny, and deeply moving, The Moon Within is a story told with an abundance of love and respect-a gift straight from the center of Salazar's heart to readers everywhere." -- Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of Eighth-Grade Superzero and coauthor of Naomis Too