¡Sí, se puede!/Yes, we can! Janitor Strike in L.A., written by Diana Cohn and illustrated by Francisco Delgado, represents an invaluable contribution to the burgeoning fields of bilingual and social justice-focused children’s literature. This tremendous work accomplishes a number of remarkable tasks through its content and thoughtful treatment: It provides middle-grade readers with a comprehensible introduction to the concept of unions, celebrates the dignity of labor, recognizes the sacrifice of working parents, and depicts a proud moment in recent history for Latino workers in the U.S.
Delgado’s illustrations are full of life, color, and humor. They range from powerful scenes of picket lines seen from a child’s perspective to a comical image of “Los Angeles del Norte,” a band of mustachioed angels–complete with guitar, accordion, bass, and drums–who appear in the protagonist’s dream as his mother’s guardian angels.
The book finishes its moving story of powerful love with a few supplemental materials, including a profile of a real-life mother/union activist, a blurb about the Justice for Janitors Movement, and a poster with information about the book’s topics. Alongside these supplemental materials, the text lends itself well to further exploration within the classroom and variety of projects celebrating community heroes. I would absolutely recommend this book for spurring meaningful discussions in any classroom.