Duncan Tonatiuh’s distinctive artwork illustrates this story of a family that brought a lawsuit to desegregate schools. The story is long–2321 words!–but Tonatiuh makes sure everything is told from young Sylvia’s point of view.

The dialogue in the book keeps things lively, and I was delighted that the author included a note about that dialogue in the back matter, He writes:

The dialogue in the trial scene comes directly from court transcripts. i shortened and edited it for clarity and pacing. The dialogue in the rest of the book is inspired by conversations i had with Sylvia Mendez in October 2012 and April 2013.

The narrative voice shifts between Spanish and English. It’s clear and plain-spoken, with few poetic devices, as if the right outcome of this case is so obvious that it doesn’t need rhetorical flourishes.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation¬†by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams: 2014.