Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bilingual Picture Books

Living in New Mexico, only about an hour from the Mexico border, bilingual titles are very popular in our library and unfortunately, we don't have that many. We've had a hard time finding quality bilingual picture books, but this week I was lucky enough to read three that will be great additions to our shelves. It is also wonderful to find new books that you know will circulate well, but it is especially awesome when the books will fill a genre that is quite lacking.

The first title, Paco and the Giant Chile Plant, or Paco y la Planta de Chile Gigante, is written by Keith Polette and illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. Basically, the story is a retelling of the infamous "Jack and the Beanstalk" story that is always popular with children. In this edition, Paco's mother sends him to town to sell the family cow for money. Paco ends up exchanging the cow for a bag of magic chile seeds and I'm sure we all know the rest of the story. Nothing is really different from the typical "Jack" story, other than the characters using Spanish words intertwined with English words, and the characters being Hispanic.

I really liked how the Spanish words were sprinkled into the story, rather than it being told first in English, then in Spanish as many bilingual books work. There is also a list of vocabulary words in the back of the book, which is very helpful when trying to learn either English or Spanish.

Traveling With Anna (De viaje con Ana): Postcards From Chicago, is written by Laura Crawford and is part of a travel series. Postcards are written from Anna to various family and friends, describing different parts of her trip to Chicago. The places she writes about are then expanded upon, offering different facts about the area. Anna is able to visit the Field Museum of Natural History and see the famous T-Rex, Sue. In the facts section, it is explained how "Sue" was given her name and other interesting tidbits about the artifacts at the museum.

I loved the actual photographs of places Anna visited on her trip, interspersed with drawings of the characters. The postcards actually read like they were written by a child and the facts were not overpowering, just enough for the reader to learn something throughout the book. There was one con to the book, though not big enough for me to not recommend it. Unfortunately, the postcards from Anna were completely in English, with no Spanish translation. The facts section on each page was, however, translated into Spanish, though it would have been nice for the postcard to have been as well.

Post Cards from New York City and Postcards from Washington D.C. are other titles in this series.

The final title I was able to preview is entitled I Wish I Was Strong Like Manuel, or, Quisiera ser Fuerte Como Manuel written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook and illustrated by Bonnie Adamson. This was a sweet story in which Willie will do just about anything to be as strong as his friend Manuel, even going so far as to wear water wings under his sweater to appear to have big muscles, guaranteed to make kids and parents giggle! At the end of the story, the reader learns that Willie has a special characteristic of his own, one that Manuel is envious of.

Definitely celebrating differences and unique abilities, this was a charming story, told both in English and in Spanish. It also has a companion book, I Wish I Was Tall Like Willie, as well as and additional series including two books, I Wish I Had Glasses Like Rosa and I Wish I Had Freckles Like Abby. Very cute book!

All of these titles are published by Raven Tree Press and will be available this spring.

1 comment:

Susan Rogers Miller, MA, CCC-SLP said...

These books look great-- thanks for the recommendations! I am going to be working with some Spanish-speaking preschoolers with language delays, and I want to create a collection of picture books with simple stories in Spanish. Does anyone have any more suggestions?