Mexikid : A Librarian’s Perspective

I’ve seen Mexikid by Pedro Martín on some shortlists for the Newbery Award in 2024. This review was written in late-December 2023.

So what did I think? It was weird! Seriously weird, actually, but I did enjoy it! Two parts might not sit well with sensitive readers, and I’ll explain both those parts below. There will be a spoiler alert before I come to those, so watch for that if you plan to read Mexikid.

Graphic Memoir

Author: Pedro Martín

Copyright: 2023

Genre: graphic novel, memoir, humor

Setting: 1977, 2000-mile family road trip from California to Mexico

Recommended for: Grades 4-8

Themes: large families, road trips, grandfathers, heroes, siblings, bilingual

Protagonist: This is a memoir, so the author is the protagonist; male, approximately age 10-11, Mexican American

Starred reviews: KirkusBooklistPublishers WeeklySLJ

Pages: 309

See it on Amazon


Pedro Martín has grown up hearing stories about his abuelito – his legendary crime-fighting, grandfather who was once a part of the Mexican Revolution! But that doesn’t mean Pedro is excited at the news that Abuelito is coming to live with their family. After all, Pedro has 8 brothers and sisters and the house is crowded enough!

Still, Pedro piles into the Winnebago with his family for a road trip to Mexico to bring Abuelito home, and what follows is the trip of a lifetime, one filled with laughs and heartache. Along the way, Pedro finally connects with his abuelito and learns what it means to grow up and find his grito.


It’s weird but entertaining! I liked it!


It’s funny! I finished this book yesterday and already cannot stop talking about it! Two scenes in particular are discussion-worthy, but I’ll get to those in a minute. Overall, this is a colorful, funny, entertaining story of a large Mexican American family and their adventures on an epic road trip from California to Mexico. I laughed out loud many times.

Colorful illustrations. The illustrations are colorful and detailed! I loved how illustrations of Abuelito’s legendary adventures are in a muted beige tone to offset them from the main story. Pedro’s new haircut had me chuckling often.

Characters are realistic (probably because they are real!) Pedro alternates between overconfidence and self-deprecating humor, which perfectly captures middle schoolers. I think many readers will identify with him. I also enjoyed the banter between the nine siblings.

Potty humor that’s actually funny. There’s significant potty humor, which will certainly be a hit with those middle graders not yet ready to move on from fart and booger stories. That snot and Pop Rocks scene alone will get kids checking this one out! I want a peepee doll now, too.

Lots of Spanish! Most Spanish phrases are explained in English at the bottom of the pages. A few are not explained, so I got to practice my Spanish. I love that I got to learn a few Spanish slang words, too.

The End Notes. I loved that the author included several family photos and additional information about Abuelito at the end. It was great to match real faces with the illustrations.


It’s overlong. At 304 pages, it’s long for a graphic novel. It felt too long, too.

And now we come to it…

Those two scenes

This is where I kind of smile and shake my head at the same time. I can’t decide if two particular scenes were great additions or horrifying ones.

The author does say they really happened in the notes at the end, so for that reason alone, they needed to be included. They are certainly unique twists in the story, but I also think sensitive readers will be quite disturbed. I don’t consider myself a “sensitive reader,” but even I was disturbed by these two scenes.

This is where the spoilers come in! I’m explaining these scenes so librarians can get a better idea on who to recommend this book to (or not). Skip this section if you want to read it and draw your own conclusions. You’ve been warned…


Scene #1: The Exhumation. This scene involves Pedro’s grandmother, who died about 20 years prior. Her burial place in Mexico was at risk of being washed away by a rising water table. Abuelito (Pedro’s grandfather) will not go to the US with the family until the grandmother’s remains are moved to a safer location.

Y’all, the family digs up a 20-year old gravesite. After digging deep in the mud, they find Abuelita’s skull and a leg bone, plus various other small parts. They know it is the grandmother’s skull because it is adorned with a purple ribbon. On top of that, they also find an unknown baby’s skull. Yes, the family’s young children go with them to do this, and yes, they are very upset. One even leaves the scene because he feels sick.

Scene #2: The Deer. If you think the grandmother’s body scene is morbid, wait till you hear this one. So a car driving ahead of the family hits a deer on the highway. Pedro’s family pulls over the RV, picks up the presumed-dead deer, and drags its body to the RV bathroom. No explanation just yet to explain why they would pick up large roadkill.

But the poor deer isn’t dead! The deer is kicking and screaming in the closed-off bathroom. Pedro decides to go to the bathroom to gawk at the deer, and he notices its hoof is broken. So, at his grandfather’s suggestion, Pedro – who is only about 11 in this story – gets a shoestring and a butter knife and tries to SAW OFF this live deer’s hoof.

The deer naturally kicks Pedro, and he runs off crying. The family passes a ranger station on the highway, but do they stop? Nope! They say the rangers cannot help the deer (they could at least call someone who could). Eventually, this most-unfortunate deer slowly stops kicking and dies.

Think that’s the end? Nope! The family then decides to eat the deer for dinner. The end.

WHA—-?????? I guess they intended to eat the deer all along? Is this why they didn’t stop at the ranger station? I really did not expect all that, though maybe I should have after the whole gravedigging scene.


You can see why I am a bit concerned about giving this book to animal lovers or sensitive readers or anyone who has had a recent death in the family.

Overall, I really did like this book, and I agree that it could be a 2024 Newbery contender. I love that it’s unique, and I certainly won’t forget this story anytime soon. But it definitely isn’t for everyone.


Pedro and his family are Mexican American. Abuelito and the people they meet along the way are Mexican.


These are adorably detailed and colorful! Several had me laughing out loud.

Click on the illustrations below to enlarge:



Would adults like this book? YES – It’s funny and has lots of 1970s pop culture references.

Would I buy this for my high school library? YES – I think high school readers who like books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid will enjoy Mexikid. It’s fun and a great diversion from stressful projects and exams.

Would I buy this for my middle school library? YES, but with the caveat that some readers will find those two scenes disturbing. It will be SO EASY to booktalk, but I would give a warning in my booktalk that a couple of scenes are a bit morbid.

Would I buy this for my elementary school library? Hmmm…not sure on this one. It feels more middle school to me. I bet plenty of 4th and 5th graders would love it though, and professional reviewers do recommend it for Grades 4-5. So I guess I probably would buy it for an elementary library, but again, I’d need to add that disclaimer that it isn’t for everyone.


Language: two uses of “hell,” both used in a Catholic sense of hell as a place (not as a swear word)

Sexuality: none

Violence: some talk and illustrations of guns used in war; decapitation; bullying from border control agents

Drugs/Alcohol: beer is mentioned in the text and illustrations; Abuelito smokes cigarettes

Other: 2 scenes that may disturb readers sensitive to animal death or long-dead bodies


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