June 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Libros para compartir | Spanish Language Roundup

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1510-WEB-Spanish-Strip1ANDERSON, Sara . Frutas/Fruit. ISBN 9780970278418.

—–. Verduras/Vegetables. ISBN 9780991193356.

ea. vol. illus. by Sara Anderson. 32p. Sara Anderson Children’s Bks. 2015. Board $9.99.

PreS-Gr 1 –Two beautifully illustrated concept books. Parents and teachers looking to build vocabulary about healthy eating choices will love these titles, as each item is clearly illustrated and the name in Spanish appears first in bold, followed by the English. The fruits or vegetables are accurately portrayed and contrasted against a solid background colors, for example, green been is placed against a yellow background. Great reading for babies through kindergarten and those trying to learn Spanish or English as a second language, bilingual and immersion programs. Parents might also enjoy toting these titles along to their local farmers markets or grocery shopping trips for fruit and veggie “I spy!” VERDICT Recommended choices for vocabulary building.–Maricela Leon-Barrera, San Francisco Public Library

Barss, Karen. Martha Habla/Martha Speaks: Conoce a Martha/Meet Martha. tr. from English by Carlos E. Calvo. Bilingual ed. 24p. (Martha Speaks). HMH. 2015. pap. $3.99. ISBN 9780544435131.

PreS-Gr 2–In this bright, bilingual early reader, based on characters created by Susan Meddaugh, children are introduced to Martha, a very special dog who can talk. In less than 30 pages, readers learn about Martha, how she obtained her ability to speak, and her family—both human and canine. Illustrations perfectly match sentence descriptions, and the colors and details on every page will undoubtedly lead to multiple readings. Kids will also learn about the benefits of Martha’s ability to communicate with words, as well as the kind of small troubles it can lead to. This crisp and entertaining book is sure to find fans in youngsters who love to watch the PBS Kids series, Martha Speaks, as well as those for whom this book is an introduction to the lovable canine character. VERDICT A welcome addition to bilingual books for young children.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales. A Bean and Cheese Taco Birthday/Un cumpleaños con tacos de frijoles con queso. tr. from English by Gabriel Baeza Ventura. illus. by Robert Trujillo. 32p. Piñata Bks. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781558858121.
PreS-Gr 2–What better way to celebrate one’s fifth birthday than to eat bean and cheese tacos and go to the park? That is what Ariel has in mind this year, but his older brother Darío cannot understand why. Darío imagines a birthday celebration at Fabulous Fiestas with pizza, a piñata and video games. After all, that is how he celebrated his last birthday, and it was a blast. Ariel’s big day finally arrives and the family goes to the park; they have it all to themselves! When Mom passes out the bean and cheese tacos, Darío starts to think that Ariel may have planned a great celebration. To top it off, the park ranger offers to give the kids a ride in his car. As the family finishes up the festivities, Darío is already looking forward to his bean and cheese taco birthday next year. Readers will enjoy this simple bilingual story about birthdays and making celebrations meaningful. The use of watercolor, pen, and ink in Trujillo’s illustrations add an airy and delicate feel to the story. VERDICT An additional purchase.–Martha Rico, El Paso ISD, TX

Blanco, Cecilia. ¡Mi familia es de otro mundo! illus. by Daniel Löwy. 78p. glossary. Uranito. 2015. pap. $15.95. ISBN 9786079344320.

Gr 1-5–This humorous and well-crafted Spanish-language celebration of family dynamics in all its disparate glory is reminiscent in style to Peter Mayle’s Where Did I Come From? (1973) and What’s Happening to Me? (1975, both Lyle Stuart). The prologue and introduction target adults—parents, caregivers, educators—and the observations are insightful, thought-provoking, and respectful. The body of this Argentinian export features seven first-person vignettes addressing many types of family situations: divorce, adoption, single parenthood, biracial, same-sex marriage, grandparents rearing grandchildren, and blended families. Whereas the scope may seem overwhelming, the information is presented in an empowering, child-friendly manner. Löwy’s colorful and whimsical, cartoonlike illustrations effectively accompany Blanco’s engaging, short, block paragraphs. The diversity of these children and their domestic living situations will invite young readers to see that even though they may feel their own relatives come from other planets, all families are more alike than different through the common denominator of love. VERDICT For collections in need of parenting books and informational titles about families in Spanish.–Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

redstarBrown, Monica. Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya. tr. from English by Adriana Domínguez. illus. by David Diaz. Bilingual ed. 32p. Children’s Bk. Pr. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780892392926. LC 2014029561.

Gr 1-3–Following the narrative styles of a traditional Yiddish folk song, Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya tells the story of a child’s most beloved possession: her blue and green handmade blanket with purple butterfly stitches. Maya’s grandmother made it to protect her from bad dreams. Yet as time passes and the blanket becomes worn and frayed, it is remade into a dress, a skirt, a shawl, and more. Similar to Nancy Andrews-Goebel’s The Pot that Juan Built (Lee & Low, 2002), the story repeatedly reminds readers of the creative transformations that Maya and her grandmother employ to turn the beloved blanket into another useful accessory. This book is a great storytime addition for school-aged children due to its sincere and simple writing that translates well in both Spanish and English, the representation of culturally diverse characters, and the underlying message of resourcefulness, imagination, and appreciation for family traditions. Readers will also be entranced by the eye-catching illustrations of Maya’s ordinary-to-extraordinary life. Created with mixed media, the graphics are illuminating with rich color and texture. Thanks to the depth of the images and the thoughtful text, readers will thoroughly enjoy wondering what Maya’s blanket will be next. VERDICT A Latino-influenced and Yiddish-inspired tale that is recommended for Spanish readers and librarians in diverse communities.–Jessica Espejel, Brooklyn Public Library

Brooks, Susie. El arte para niños: Animales. tr. from English by Ainhoa Pawlowsky.32p. Picarona 2015. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9788416117185.
Gr 4-8–In this wonderful book, Brooks asks readers if they could draw any animal they wish, which one would they choose? She entices young readers and budding artists to try their hand at creating masterpieces inspired by the works of famous painters and visual artists, from Degas to Escher, to Miró and Matisse. Using animals as an organizing theme, the book offers both practical instructions on how to create cool animal crafts using mixed media, while at the same time, presenting interesting facts and trivia about each of the featured artists and their work. For example, the page on Joan Miró showcases his painting El Carnaval de Arlequín (Harlequin’s Carnival) on a spread with a folded, interactive flap that provides a mini-biography of the artist, as well as a brief art criticism piece accessible to young readers. The text explains how the abstract figures might be interpreted as animal forms, with the harlequin figure at the center symbolizing Miró’s state-of-mind as a starving artists. Upon opening the flap, readers find an easy-to-follow art craft that uses simple outlines and color fill-ins to create abstract Miró-like animals. The second craft uses Play-Doh as a medium to shape weird-looking imaginary animals. VERDICT This book is recommended for school and public library collections with an eye toward arts programming.–Lettycia Terrones, California State University, Pollak Library, Fullerton , CA

Del Monte, Katherine. Animals/Animales. ISBN 9781604480320.
––––. Baby Body/El cuerpo del bebé. ISBN 9781604480337.

––––. Birds/Aves. ISBN 9781604480351.

––––. Insects/Insectos. ISBN 9781604480344.

––––. My Family/Mi familia. ISBN 9781604480368.

ea vol: tr. from Spanish. illus. by Noël Ill. Bilingual ed. 10p. (Baby Talk Bilingual Board Books). Lectura Bks. 2015. Board. $4.95.

Baby-Toddler–A collection of five sweet bilingual board books. Animals/Animales presents cute, cuddly baby creatures at play in their habitats. The left page identifies the animal with a sentence about its behavior in English and the opposite page provides the translation. The facts range from the overly broad (“Sheep have best friends”) to the quaintly specific (“Baby Turtles are called ‘Sparkies’”). Several of the translations use more than one term to describe the animal, which might prove confusing for some, but will help expand little ones’ vocabulary (e.g., perrito and cachorro for puppy). The strongest of the quartet is Baby Body/El cuerpo del bebé; the cast of diverse babies are depicted in adorable, everyday poses on the left page while on the right, the body part is shown with lots of negative space. Bird/Aves and Insects/Insectos are the weakest of the bunch: despite the colorful, vibrant art and the range of creatures presented, the text is a bit hyperbolic (“Spiders make silk, the strongest material in the world”). My Family/Mi familia rounds out the collection with playful images of family members interacting with a baby of indeterminate gender. The bright digital illustrations will be eye candy for the youngest of patrons and the friendly bilingual text makes this just right for baby or toddler storytimes. VERDICT A solid addition for collections looking to include more dual language board books.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Kohara, Kazuno. Jack Escarcha. tr. from English by Joana Delgado. illus. by Kazumo Kohara. 32p. Picarona. 2015. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9788416117147.

PreS-Gr 2–This smooth Spanish-language translation of Here Comes Jack Frost (Roaring Brook, 2009) will work well for storytime or classroom use, especially in the winter season. The bold, sharp-edged illustrations are strikingly lovely and easy to interpret. The clarity and simplicity of Delgado’s translation will make the book easily absorbed in a group setting. She has preserved the rhythm and flow of the text, making for an easy read-aloud experience. The repetitive plot structure invites young listeners to predict what will happen next, allowing them to practice this important pre-reading skill. VERDICT A solid addition to most collections.–Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

1510-WEB-Spanish-Strip2LaÍnez, René Colato. ¡Vámonos! Let’s Go!: An Adaptation of “The Wheels on the Bus” in English and Spanish. illus. by Joe Cepeda. 32p. Holiday House. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823434428.

PreS-Gr 2–Laínez’s adaptation of the popular song turns attention from the bus passengers to the different modes of transportation that a group of children observe on their ride to school. The sounds made by each vehicle are distinct and, because the text is presented side-by-side in English and Spanish, readers can detect cultural differences in the onomatopoeia assigned to each vehicle. From the engine of a train to the horn of a tricycle, there is a variety of vehicles represented that are all common sites in most neighborhoods. The brightly colored illustrations and smiling characters throughout the story contribute to the exuberant mood. Most, if not all, of the vehicle drivers represented in the illustrations are male, leaving opportunity to share with readers how the people working in our community are both male and female and also come from diverse cultural backgrounds. However, the children in the illustrations are representative of a culturally diverse neighborhood. A glossary of Spanish words is included as well as sheet music for “The Wheels on the Bus.” VERDICT Consider this title to support learning units on transportation and community workers.–Matthew C. Winner, Ducketts Lane Elementary School, Elkridge, MD

Luna, James. The Place Where You Live/El lugar donde vives. tr. from English by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. illus. by Thelma Muraida. 32p. Piñata Bks. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781558858138.

PreS-Gr 1–Luna introduces a very simple way of describing where one lives, goes to school, plays with their friends, and enjoys the company of their family. The story is set in a typical suburban community. The text is bilingual in Spanish and English and the illustrations are a bit generic and romanticized, and the references to Latino culture are minimal. The English text has a simple rhyming scheme, yet the Spanish text is a literal translation of the English, thus losing the rhyming scheme altogether. Which makes one wonder who the primary audience is for this story: Spanish readers or English readers? Also, it is jarring to read at a bilingual storytime program if the librarian usually reads and translates a page simultaneously. Finally, the illustrations are hardly noteworthy, almost too traditional and old-fashioned. All of the images are presented on the right page of the spread, and appear to be done in colored pencil or pastels, and end up portraying the same kind of landscape in every page. In the end, the book does have some “Home Sweet Home” sentimental appeal, but is not distinguished in text or art. VERDICT The Place Where You Live is not particularly exciting and difficult to read in English and Spanish when rhyming schemes are lost in translation.–Jessica Espejel, Brooklyn Public Library

Mora, Pat. The Remembering Day/El Día de los Muertos. tr. from English by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. illus. by Robert Casilla. 32p. Piñata Bks. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781558858053.

Gr 2-4–This is not a typical bilingual Dia de los Muertos picture book with calaveras or other images of death. Instead, Mora brings readers a different view of this sacred day, harking back to the origins of the celebration, through the eyes of Bella, a young girl living in Mexico long ago. Bella is very close to her grandmother, Mama Alma, who teaches her gardening, weaving, cooking, and how to use herbs. They leave time for enjoying each other’s company with games of hide-and-seek. But, Mama Alma instills in Bella how important it is to have “remembering time,” and how Bella must look back on the their time spent together with a smile. When the day comes that Mama Alma is no longer with them, Bella and her family prepare for a special Remembering Day in her honor, just the way Mama Alma taught Bella to do. Readers will find a heartwarming story and perhaps be reminded of a loved one that has passed on in this story illustrated by Casilla, a Pura Belpré Honor Winner. The text and illustrations mesh well together, just like Mama Alma and her granddaughter Bella. VERDICT A recommended book for young readers, especially those in bilingual settings.–Martha Rico, El Paso ISD, TX

Pfister, Marcus. El pez arco iris/The Rainbow Fish. tr. from English by Ana Tortajada & J. Alison James. 32p. NorthSouth Bks. 2015. pap.$9.99. ISBN 9780735841970.

PreS–English and Spanish speaking children will enjoy this fully translated edition of the popular tale. The shiny scales belonging to the Rainbow Fish will draw young readers in and the story of the little fish who wants to find out how to make friends will continue to hold their attention. Little ones will love meeting starfish and wise octopus, and rejoice when Rainbow Fish finds friendship in the end. A beautifully translated bilingual version of the classic picture book. VERDICT A must-have for collections with Spanish picture books.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

Seuss, Dr. The Cat in the Hat/El gato ensombrerado: Bilingual Edition. tr. from English by Georgina Lázaro & Teresa Mlawer. illus. by Dr. Seuss. 72p. Random. 2015. Tr $15. ISBN 9780553524437.

PreS-Gr 3 –Translating poetry can be a daunting project, and between the rhyme scheme, the language play, and the restricted word use, The Cat in the Hat counts as poetry. This new translation does an excellent job of keeping the musicality and playfulness of the original. While not restricting themselves to the exact rhyme scheme of the English, Lázaro and Mlawer find plenty of opportunities for rhyming, which lends the book a lilting quality, perfect for reading aloud. They’ve taken enough liberties to keep the text flowing but stayed true enough to the original to convey the zany plot twists that delight readers of this classic. Beginning readers of Spanish may struggle a bit with some of the vocabulary because, unfortunately, easy-to-read words in English do not necessarily translate to easy-to-read words in Spanish. VERDICT Overall, this is a great addition to any library with Spanish-speaking patrons.–Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Smith, Michael. A Smile/Una sonrisa. illus. by Manny Aguiler. 36p. East West Discovery. 2015. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9780991345458.

PreS-Gr 3–In a straightforward, didactic style, Smith makes clear the connection between good oral hygiene and happy teeth. However, the effectiveness of the message is hindered by the sameness of the rhyme scheme used throughout. The author rarely deviates from standard couplets, which seems to restrict what he can say about why regular brushing and flossing leads to positive self-esteem and healthy teeth. Moreover, it limits what he can do with language to effectively capture young imaginations and promote his message. The limitations of Smith’s rhymes also constrict the Spanish translations, making for a few awkward translated idioms. Aguiler’s illustrations are similarly bland, with the exception of a spread that uses a “close-up” effect to show a child’s open mouth and a set of bottom-row teeth. Children are often excited by the grossness factor in human anatomy. Aguiler does well in this particular spread to capture that curiosity, but does not extend it further in his illustrations, and like Smith with language, does not take advantage of the juicy field of oral health to draw kids in. The notes and tips for parents and educators found at the end of the book are well written and communicate to adults the importance of good oral hygiene. As a read-aloud, this book offers talking points for discussing with kids the importance of healthy teeth. VERDICT An adequate overview of why kids should brush their teeth and see the dentist.–Lettycia Terrones, California State University, Pollak Library, Fullerton , CA

This article was published in School Library Journal's October 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.