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Journey of Dreams Hardcover – August 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847800610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847800619
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,528,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—Fleeing their burned village in the Guatemalan highlands, 13-year-old Tomasa, her two brothers, and her storytelling father make their way first to the capital and then north to Mexico City and across another border to Arizona. They reunite with her mother and another brother, who are safe thanks to the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s. Artistic Tomasa loves to sketch and to re-create her world in her weaving and embroidery. Through her narrative, readers can envision her family and village life as well as the sights of her journey from the mountains to the cities and north to America. This well-paced first-person account is full of suspenseful moments, but also psychologically convincing as the author shows Tomasa consciously burying her own emotions while her younger brother, Manuel, adopts another woman in place of the mother who left him behind to save her 14-year-old from the army. Although Tomasa's journey takes a year, the pace moves along quickly. Still, there is room to recount Guatemalan folktales and show many details of village life as well as the refugee experience. A short background explanation, a glossary, and a map complete this harrowing but ultimately hopeful immigration story based on the author's work with refugees.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD
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Review

An involving read, strong in the celebration of Mayan-inflected folklore and culture. --Financial Times

{starred}"Pellegrino's great achievement resides in the authenticity of Tomasa's voice as a Mayan girl. This novel will captivate both Latin American survivors of civil war and their peers. Outstanding." (glossary of Spanish and quiche, map) (Historical fiction. Ya) --Kirkus

A modern-day Underground Railroad is the stirring drama narrated by Mayan Tomasa, 13, who in the early 1980s is forced with her family to flee the military burning and slaughter of her mountain village in Guatemala and seek refuge across the border. True to her anguished viewpoint, her present-tense narrative tells of her desperate journey with the coyote guides, those who help and those who betray the fugitives as they cross desert, river, and mountains, and make it to Mexico City and then finally to the Sanctuary Movement in the U.S. Based on author Pelligrino's work with displaced refugees, the personal story is rooted in authentic detail of oppression, escape, and hope. The "dreams" may sometimes be too much: every episode ends with a magical realism connection rooted in Tomasa's culture. More than the local color, readers will be held by the escape adventure, and even more by the searing family drama of separation and the climax of reunion, the kindness and courage that fight the cruelty. -- Hazel Rochman --Booklist

Fleeing their burned village in the Guatemalan highlands, 13-year-old Tomasa, her two brothers, and her storytelling father make their way first to the capital and then north to Mexico City and across another border to Arizona. They reunite with her mother and another brother, who are safe thanks to the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s. Artistic Tomasa loves to sketch and to re-create her world in her weaving and embroidery. Through her narrative, readers can envision her family and village life as well as the sights of her journey from the mountains to the cities and north to America. This well-paced first-person account is full of suspenseful moments, but also psychologically convincing as the author shows Tomasa consciously burying her own emotions while her younger brother, Manuel, adopts another woman in place of the mother who left him behind to save her 14-year-old from the army. Although Tomasa's journey takes a year, the pace moves along quickly. Still, there is room to recount Guatemalan folktales and show many details of village life as well as the refugee experience. A short background explanation, a glossary, and a map complete this harrowing but ultimately hopeful immigration story based on the author's work with refugees.-Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD --School Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I couldn't put the book down once I started reading it.
B. Habina
Overall this is a good book and I would recommend it to any adult and any of the more mature young adults.
Christine L. Plaisted
Pellegrino crafts a compelling story with several fully drawn characters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Moore VINE VOICE on November 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is Tomasa's story and how she and what's left of her family must try to escape from the Guatemalan army. They must journey far, sometimes retracing their steps, when things go awry. They must hide who they are and be careful who they trust. Their father tells them stories to help them get to sleep after hard days of many miles. All they want is the quiet refuge of the United states and a reunion with the others of their family.

I really appreciated this book and am very glad I signed up to receive it. I wouldn't normally pick up a book like this because I can't really relate to it. Most of us have never had to endure genocide or border crossings, that fear mixed with the glint of hope. This was a beautiful story with rich storytelling and heartfelt moments. Everything seemed so real and the images were vivid in my mind, much like Tomasa's woven huipil blouses. I think this would be a great novel to read along with a Central American unit in school, or if you are interested in Guatemalan culture and their hardships. This is a great book about refugees and how much different people's lives are in other parts of the world. This is a novel of bravery and dreams and a passion for freedom that drives them through. If you get a chance definitely pick up this book. If you are a teacher this is a must read for you. Marge Pellegrino wove a beautiful story in this novel.

First Line:
"Thwap, thwap, thwap. The high green branches of the pine trees shiver in the wind from the dark green machine whirring above us."

Favorite Line:
"'Where did the green go?' Maria asks."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Ann Mojica on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Journey of Dreams is a work of historical fiction which takes place in 1984-85. During that time the Guatemalan government destroyed 440 villages using a slash and burn campaign. More than one million families were displaced and 200,000 people fled Guatemala. Human rights volunteers and religious leaders found safe havens for some of the exiled. It became known as the Sanctuary Movement. These volunteers funneled them to safety and helped them to gain political asylum. In this book Tomasa is a thirteen year old Mayan girl born in the highlands. She embodies the experiences of many of these refugees. Her story reflects the courage of many like herself and reveals the rich tapestry of her culture.

At the beginning of the story Tomasa and her family live in a small village. They farm on their land; the women sell native clothing and crafts at the local market. But lately, the rebel soldiers have been forcing young boys to join the army. They mercilessly wipe out the opposition. One day Tomasa's mother tells her son Carlos that government planes are spraying harmful chemicals. They are overheard and must flee the village to survive. Conditions continue to deteriorate. Many local villagers have been placed in model villages, which are nothing more than concentration camps. Papa is determined to escape with the family. Soldiers suspect them; they are forced to return. Soon after soldiers come to burn their village. Their grandmother dies trying to escape. They hide and make their way slowly on foot to the capital city. From there they will try to cross into Mexico. Every night as they cower in the fields, Papa tells them a native story, while every night Tomasa has haunting nightmares. Papa must find work while Tomasa, her brother Manuel and baby sister, Maria hide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christine L. Plaisted on February 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In Journey of Dreams, Marge Pellegrino writes a heart wrenching story about a Native Guatemalan family that is split apart by the terrible events that happen in their small village and their entire country during the 1980's. Although this is not a "true" story, Marge Pellegrino has taken the stories of many children that she worked with in her volunteer work with the Owl & Panther project that helps refugees from other countries to help them get out of war torn places and find their families. This is a book written from the point of view of Tomasa, a 13 year old Native Guatemalan girl, whose family is torn apart by the military of her country threatening her mother's life, and threatening to take her oldest brother into the army like many of the other boys in her village. Then poor Tomasa and the rest of her family have to flee their village and then their country to stay alive.

This is one of those books that will tear at your heart and make you cry as you live through all the horrible things that this poor girl and her family goes through. As well as all the other heart wrenching stories that are told along their journey of the people they meet. I cried at many places in this book. It's not an easy read, partially because of the content being so dramatic, but also because you're reading the thoughts and dreams of a young girl who doesn't write very well. Sometimes the sentences are extremely disjointed and it makes it very hard to read. Overall this is a good book and I would recommend it to any adult and any of the more mature young adults. Though there are many concepts that would be hard for the younger teen to read, I would still recommend it for some.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katrina E. Dillon on April 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After spending the last month working on projects around the violence in Juárez and the disappearances and torture in Pinochet's Chile, I have to admit, I wasn't sure I was up for reading Journey of Dreams. While all the reviews were quite positive, every time I read the synopsis I'd start to feel the dread of one more incredibly depressing story that I was going to have to immerse myself in. I managed to talk myself out of starting it a number of times. Eventually I ran out of time, our book group meeting was just a few weeks away, and there was no more putting it off. Once I started it though, I loved it.
It is a beautiful book in so many different ways. I obviously had expectations based on the historical context of the book. While the story takes place during the violent period of the Guatemalan Civil War, it isn't a depressing story in the way one would expect. There are parts that are sad and difficult to read. These parts are even harder to come to terms with when you realize you're reading them through the eyes of a thirteen year-old girl. Pellegrino manages to deal with much of the violence implicitly, making the novel appropriate for a much broader age range. There is no explicitly gruesome violence. Tomasa talks about the smell of the burning villages or the sights of the mounds of what appear to be bodies in the village square, but the reality of the violence that these things speak to seems to hover just outside of the story. As an adult reader, I know the horror of what these things represent, but a younger reader more than likely would not. This means that a teacher could share the story of Tomasa and her family, without delving into the darker parts of this period in Guatemala if that wasn't appropriate for the grade level.
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