title: Seven Pablos
Author: Jorge Luján
Illustrator: Chiara Carrer
Translator: Mara Faye Lethem
Date: Enchanted Lion Books; 2018
‘Pablo’ is a name that can mostly be found in Portugal, Spain and the countries they colonized around the world. In Seven Pablos, Jorge Luján and Chiara Carrer provide a brief glimpse into the lives of seven children named Pablo, each from a different country that has been colonized. Details about each Pablo is provided using a third person narrative voice. We learn whether he lives in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil or even New York City. His need for clothing items, his desire to go to school or his willingness to share his milk articulates his economic status while other clues detail the political situation of the country in which Pablo lives. The pencil drawings in the book bring a vitality to the story because they convey a feeling that perhaps Pablo drew the picture himself; perhaps this is Pablo’s own view of his world.
This isn’t a warm and fuzzy book to be read on dad’s lap before bedtime. It’s a teaching tool that can be used in all classrooms ranging from elementary through high school to help develop skills in ELA, history, world geography, government or even math class. Themes can include imperialism, poetry/self-expression, immigration, political or economic systems, oppression, economic justice and families. Implicit lesson will certainly address empathy, discrimination, anti-violence and social justice. Seven Pablos is definitely a book to use to promote activism. One name, one world but such inequity.
I randomly picked up this book in the library and two pages in, I had to sit down to continue reading. Luján finesses a balance that leaves readers not wanting to judge a situation but, wanting to or know more about the situation in the country and more important, wanting to do something about it. Situations in the story have sufficient information to inspire action through music or poetry, donations to those in need or by tending to the earth.
What these Pablo’s want is a place to which they can be connected and this story generates a desire to provide that place.
OK, maybe this should be read on dad’s lap.
Jorge Luján is an award-winning children’s author. Originally from Argentina, he currently lives in Mexico. More information about his work can be found at http://www.jorgelujan.net