After reading so many MG books recently with a 300-400 page length, it was nice to finally come across one with a more traditional page count. Yes, many kids read anything and devour books like candy. Then there are the others. More than half the young readers I come across reach for the books with a less bulky appearance.

Mañanaland is one they will pick up and read cover to cover. The story is special and you can’t help but get wrapped up in 12-year-old Max Cordoba’s tender but impactful voice. Set in fictional Santa Maria, the place will remind you of several South American countries where citizens must flea to obtain a better life.

Max loves to play fútbol (soccer), trade stories with his Buelo (Grandpa), and hang out with friends. Papa won’t tell him what happened to his mother who left when Max was an infant. He also has no birth certificate and may not get to play his beloved sport unless his age can be verified. When Papa goes to another city to hopefully have the problem taken care of, Max’s curiosity takes over and after a series of events finds himself accompanying a young girl to help her reconnect with an older sister and find freedom. Deep down Max hopes he can also find his mother.

Possibilities for discussion and contrasting the situation to one’s own culture are numerous. Mañanaland is a heartfelt coming of age story like none other.

Here’s the official synopsis:


Maximiliano Córdoba loves stories, especially the legend Buelo tells him about a mythical gatekeeper who can guide brave travelers on a journey into tomorrow.

If Max could see tomorrow, he would know if he’d make Santa Maria’s celebrated fútbol team and whether he’d ever meet his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby. He longs to know more about her, but Papá won’t talk. So when Max uncovers a buried family secret–involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety–he decides to seek answers on his own.

With a treasured compass, a mysterious stone rubbing, and Buelo’s legend as his only guides, he sets out on a perilous quest to discover if he is true of heart and what the future holds.

This timeless tale of struggle, hope, and the search for tomorrow has much to offer today about compassion and our shared humanity.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: March 3, 2020 PAGE COUNT: 256

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT Mañanaland. by Pam Muñoz Ryan

  1. Max keeps a compass around his neck that his mother left behind. What he eventually does with the compass shows how much heart this boy really has.
  2. Max’s beloved dog has some surprises of her own.
  3. The realistic setting is enhanced when Spanish is spoken. Not to worry for those of us a little rusty after three years of High School Spanish, the English meaning is woven into the scene in a very subtle way.
  4. The plight of refugee immigrants is given a deeper understanding and one which all of us deserve to know.
  5. Family, Love. Friendship.


Today, I cannot imagine not writing. But I have a very practical approach to it. It is my job. One that I love. I want to deliver, for my publisher, for my reader, and for myself. People frequently ask me, “What is your motivation to write?” The answer is simple. I want the reader to turn the page. (For more visit Pam’s Author Web Site)


Please leave a comment below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Mañanaland

  1. I want to read this book! Thanks for reminding me of its existence. I agree that I’m getting a little weary of the 300-400 page books. Most of the time those extra pages could have been tightened.

  2. Natalie Aguirre says:

    This sounds like a winner. I’m really into reading books set in other cultures and about immigrants these days. Fingers crossed that I can get this at my library.

  3. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a great book! I really enjoyed one of the author’s other books, Echo, so I’m sure I’d enjoy this as well! Thanks for the great review!

  4. What a powerful story! I can’t read enough immigration stories — they are so compelling. With all the immigration issues of kids being separated from their familes this past year, I hope Ryan and other Latinos write their stories.

  5. This author’s Echo was certainly different. This was much better, and the length is certainly better for middle school readers.

  6. jennienzor says:

    I have enjoyed everything I’ve read so far by this author, especially Esperanza Rising. This one sounds very unique and interesting and a good way to learn about another culture.
    I like that the author included Spanish, but made the meaning obvious through context.
    Thanks for such a thoughtful review!

  7. This book is certainly relevant today, and a lot of young people will relate to Max’s story. I will put this on my TBR. It sound very good. Thanks for the review.

  8. Just ordered from my library! Thanks!

  9. Pingback: The 2020 GOLDEN CUP AWARDS | Always in the Middle…

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