The Notebook Keeper

A Story of Kindness from the Border

Written by Stephen Briseño, Illustrated by Magdalena Mora

When a girl named Noemi and her Mama decide their town in Mexico is too unsafe and they must make their way to the border, they are told to find “The Notebook Keeper,” a woman who enters in everyone’s name and assigns them a number so they can be called up to make their case for asylum. This is a discouraging process, but woman, named Belinda, is kind and encouraging. This helps Noemi decide to look for the good all around her. When Belinda’s own number is called, she turns the notebook over to Noemi and her mother, realizing they have hope and kindness to share too.

This book is based on the true experiences of refugees at the San Ysidro Border Checkpoint in Tijuana, Mexico. The notebook was passed from keeper to keeper, no one certain of how the system began. The author’s note explains the back story of this book, as well as the updated information that the outbreak of COVID and the closing of the border ended the notebook system. This book won a well-deserved Pura Belpré Honor. It is wonderfully illustrated and helps to capture the beauty of nature and the people in the story. This would be a perfect book to spotlight during Hispanic Heritage month and for discussions about immigration, the refugee experience, overcoming hardship, and kindness. A must-have for all elementary libraries!

Reviewed by Andrea LeBaron, Librarian, Upland Terrace Elementary
Review shared in February 2023
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades K-6

The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness from the Border
Written by Stephen Briseño, Illustrated by Magdalena Mora
Random House Studio
40 pages
Release Date: June 28, 2022
ISBN: 9780593307052
Yes-A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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