9781554987412Two White Rabbits
By Jairo Buitrago
Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
Published by Groundwood Books

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“An important and timely picture book for every library collection.”  —School Library Journal 


In this moving and timely story, a young child describes what it is like to be a migrant as she and her father travel north toward the U.S. border.

They travel mostly on the roof of a train known as The Beast, but the little girl doesn’t know where they are going. She counts the animals by the road, the clouds in the sky, the stars. Sometimes she sees soldiers. She sleeps, dreaming that she is always on the move, although sometimes they are forced to stop and her father has to earn more money before they can continue their journey.

As many thousands of people, especially children, in Mexico and Central America continue to make the arduous journey to the U.S. border in search of a better life, this is an important book that shows a young migrant’s perspective.


Illustration © Rafael Yockteng from TWO WHITE RABBITS

Reviews & Accolades
★  “Hope and hardship coexist in this haunting look at refugees fleeing home in hopes of a safer, more secure life. While strongly suggestive of Mexico, the setting is never mentioned explicitly, nor are the reasons why the young narrator and her father are traveling. For the girl, counting—chickens on the side of the road, people encamped by train tracks—offers a stability that her day-to-day life cannot; numbers are constant, even when you’re always on the move. On every step of their journey, which includes fording a muddy river on rafts built on rubber tires and riding atop a rusted-out train, they are joined by a narrow-eyed coyote, a visual metaphor for those who smuggle migrants and refugees across borders, not always with good intentions. Colored in drab browns and blues, Yockteng’s illustrations emphasize the closeness between father and daughter without downplaying the dangers they face. Buitrago and Yockteng (who previously collaborated on Jimmy the Greatest!) leave the family’s story open-ended, powerfully underscoring the idea that there are few certainties in the life of a refugee.”
Publishers Weekly

★ “A young girl and her father face challenges together as they move from place to place. They travel by foot and by train and are happy to catch a ride with passersby when they can. Sometimes their journey is delayed (or derailed) when they must stop because of soldiers or if father has to earn more money to continue along their way. Told entirely through the sensibility of the child, the narration informs readers that “the people who are taking us don’t always take us where we are going.” The young girl passes the time by counting the interesting items she sees such as animals, people, clouds, and stars. She is very curious about where they are headed, but never receives an answer to her query. Yet, she is content because she has her daddy and her two white rabbits. This simple, yet poignant picture book beautifully illustrates the life of one migrating family. Set in Central America or Mexico, it shows the arduous journey north to the United States in search of a better life. This book is a great tool for introducing immigration, and can be appreciated on many levels. The digitally created illustrations are detailed and full of expression, telling a story of love, struggle, and determination. VERDICT An important and timely picture book for every library collection.”
School Library Journal 

★  “When we travel, I count what we see,” this little girl tells readers. She counts hens, cows, “one little bored donkey,” and a russet mutt that her father calls a chucho and that joins the two on the road. That one Spanish word and a sign for the frontera constitute some of the few textual clues to the pair’s circumstances. Adult readers will see Latin American migrants, probably without papers to judge by the raft they ride across the river and the soldiers they flee. Children will see an adventure that’s sometimes thrilling, sometimes boring, sometimes terrifying—how much will depend on how familiar readers are with this perilous trek, but even those from the coziest of homes will detect some. They ride atop boxcars, and they stop while Papá works to make money for the next leg of the journey. They are dark-skinned; their fellow migrants range from pale to dark. The only constants are the chucho, the girl’s stuffed bunny, “the way people we meet on the road look at us,” and the current of affection that runs between father and daughter. The story does not conclude; it simply ends with the companions “back on the road,” now with the titular rabbits. Like the creators’ previous book, Jimmy the Greatest (2012), it’s a masterpiece of understatement. In leaving readers with much to wonder about, the book packs the most powerful of punches.”
Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
Latino / Latina

Family Relationships
Illegal Immigration
Migrant Life
Refugee Life

Mexico / Central America (unnamed)

Jairo Buitrago
Jairo Buitrago is a children’s book author who has collaborated with Rafael Yockteng on several picture books. Together they won the “A la Orilla del Viento” contest (Mexico) and their books have been included on IBBY’s Honor List, in the White Ravens Catalogue (Germany) and on Banco del Libro’s “Los mejores libros del año” / Best Books of the Year (Venezuela). He lives in Mexico.

Rafael Yockteng
Rafael Yockteng has illustrated a number of children’s books, which have been published in Colombia and abroad. His images appear in Messengers of Rain / Mandaderos de la lluvia, an anthology of Latin American poetry, and Trees Are Hanging from the Sky / Los arboles estan colgando del cielo by Jorge Argueta. He lives in Bogotá, Colombia.

Elisa Amado
Elisa Amado is a Guatemalan-born author and translator. She has written Un barrilete para el Día de los muertos / Barrilete: A Kite for the Day of the Dead, Cousins (Primas) and Tricycle (El triciclo), which is on the Américas Award Commended List and is a USBBY Outstanding International Book. Her most recent books are What Are You Doing? and Why Are You Doing That?. Elisa lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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One Comment

  1. I love this review! Sounds like a fantastic book! Would you be interested in sharing this review with the Diverse Children’s Books Link-up? You can find it at http://pagesandmargins.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/diverse-childrens-books-link-up/. Thanks!