On September 11, 1973, a military coup plunged Chile into seventeen long years of dictatorial rule. Only the return of democracy could reveal the full horrors of Augusto Pinochet’s regime: 3,197 people dead or disappeared—including thirty-four children under the age of fourteen.
This book is a stirring memorial to those victims and to the cost of extremism. Thirty-four poems—one for each child lost—consider the diverse hopes of these fragile young lives. From Alicia to Jaime, Héctor to Paola, Soledad to Rafael, they were brave and creative, thoughtful and strong. In these pages, some children watch for the changing seasons. Some listen for new sounds on rainy afternoons. And some can’t wait for their next birthday.
Featuring gentle, emotive poems and soft, pastel-toned illustrations, Niños is an unforgettable tribute to the children of Pinochet’s Chile and all those threatened by political violence across the world.
“A book to be read and remembered: a tribute to children whose lives were lost to forces not of their own creation.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Of all the gifts she’s been given this birthday her favorite are the balloons
that decorated the house for the party. Because if they fly—
if she opens the window and lets them fly—it would be like giving a gift to the wind. Because the wind must also have a birthday. Even if we don’t know it, it must have one.
He made friends with the bird who lived in the tree outside his window. He understands its every peep and thinks that if he were small
he could visit its nest in the afternoons.
He could even learn to sing,
and they could make a concert together.
There’s an apple tree in the yard of her house.
She looks at it and writes in a notebook:
Spring—leaves and shoots.
And at the end, she adds in parentheses:
(The apple tree is a clock
that grows upon the earth.
Instead of telling the hour, it tells the season. Today it’s autumn.)
Today he decided to search for seven similarities between the sun and an orange.
It took him an hour to discover them.
And then he left with the orange shining
in his pocket.