Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Finalist: MEXIKID by Pedro Martin
Introduction by Heavy Medal Award Committee Member Janee Jackson-Doering:
Being a Mexikid doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about being Mexican. In fact, it’s the opposite. A Mexikid wants to learn more. A Mexikid is excited to fill in the gaps in his own story with stories of his heritage. (from the “Some of Your Questions Answered” segment in the back of the book.)
Author Pedro Martin is indeed a Mexikid. As the seventh sibling out of nine children, he was born in America. His parents were born in Mexico – and Pedro doesn’t know much about his Mexican heritage. When the family learns they’re to travel to Mexico to pick up their grandfather (or Abuelito) so he can live with them; Pedro worries that Abuelito won’t like them (pg. 18). On top of that, he hardly knows anything about him. Together, they pack the family Winnebago and travel 2,000 miles from California to Jalisco, Mexico – and Pedro learns more about Abuelito and his own identity than he could ever imagine.
MEXIKID is an unforgettable, funny and moving memoir. Pedro’s themes of family, identity, culture, and finding yourself are strong throughout the book. This graphic novel’s illustrations captured the culture and feel of Mexico beautifully – and it didn’t steer clear of heartbreak and realities in Mexico. From the shady border guards who practice “La Mordida” (or The Bite – pg. 71-72) to Abuelito digging through the dirt and mud to find and properly bury the remains of his beloved wife (pgs. 183-202); these are moments that stick with readers.
I also loved how MEXIKID effortlessly weaved humor into the story. I laughed at the scenes of his family members getting sick of hearing the The Music Man song, “SHIPOOPI!” (pg. 79). Or when Pedro visits the barber and while hearing the barber’s story about his Abuelito, Pedro receives a less than stellar haircut (pgs. 112-134). MEXIKID is a great example of how readers can find their own identity.
Heavy Medal Award Committee members and others are now invited to discuss this book further in the Comments section below. Let the Mock Newbery discussion begin!
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at email@example.com.
SLJ Blog Network