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Fronteras Extra: Illustrating A Journey — 'La Frontera: El Viaje Con Papá'

When he was 14 years old, Alfredo Alva crossed the border with his father from Mexico into Texas. His journey is told in the children’s book “La Frontera: El Viaje con Papá, My Journey with Papa” by first-time author and Kerrville resident Deborah Mills. Alva is now a construction worker living in Kerrville.

The story has been slightly altered to make the character of Alfredito younger, about 8 years old, to better identify with young readers.

Credit Barefoot Books Publishing
Alfredito's family hosts a farewell party before he and his father make the journey to the U.S.

Mills says the idea for the book grew out of a preliminary project that featured black and white photographs. Illustrator Claudia Navarro used those photos to inspire her brightly-colored images. The colors reflect the mood of the book as the story progresses — bright when Alfredito is with his family in Mexico, and becoming darker during his and his father’s treacherous journey.

The back of the book includes a section that allows parents and children to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the decision Alfredito and other immigrants make when choosing to leave their homes in search of a better life.

Credit Barefoot Books Publishing
Alfredito and his father cross the desert looking for shelter.

“I thought this was an important story every child should know,” Mills said. “(Information) about coyotes, about immigration, about (President Ronald) Reagan, things like that.”

Alfredo’s father was granted amnesty in 1986 under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which was enacted during the Reagan administration. That opened the door to citizenship for Alva and his family.

The afterward also includes pictures of Alva and his family.

“This happened. Everything is real. This is a good story. I love my life that I had and I just want to share it with everybody.”


Norma Martinez can be reached by email at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1