A daily trip to school is a monumental journey for the narrator of Yenebi’s Drive to School. Yenebi, her younger sister, Melanie, and her mother, Mami, rise at 4 a.m. to cross the border from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego by 7 a.m. Yenebi doesn’t mind the hours of waiting in la linea—the lines of cars awaiting inspection by U.S. authorities—noting that her mother’s wakeup call “makes my ears happier than an alarm clock ever could.” Along the way, she sees a festival of sights, sounds and smells, as vendors tempt car passengers with tacos al vapor, burritos and pan dulce.
Author-illustrator Sendy Santamaria notes that this story arose from her own childhood spent on both sides of the border: “It often felt like home was always around me but never somewhere tangible. . . . It was the moments of waiting, of being in between both countries, that felt like home.” She seamlessly weaves Spanish phrases and dialogue into her crisp text, and her art is an explosion of vibrant color, adding to the book’s multisensory celebration. Yenebi’s Drive to School demonstrates excellently that there are many ways to get to school and that the lessons and rewards of education are worth striving for.