Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Three Picture Books

We recently got some new Spanish books in at the library, and these are just three of the gems among them.

El Elefante y el Árbol
Jin Pyn Lee

A beautiful story about friendship, and about the things that friendships can help us get through. Elephant loves to travel and he especially loves to tell his best friend, Tree, stories about his travels. Tree, being the tallest tree, tells Elephant about all the many things he can see. They enjoy nature and their freedom, until one day there is a shout in the forest. Tree tells Elephant to run, but Elephant stays with his friend, and they are both captured. But their friendship and the beautiful things they have experienced help them get through even the most difficult hardships. The simple illustrations, and the story itself, are very heartbreaking.

¡Qué Fastidio ser Princesa!
Carmen Gil
Illustrated by Daniel Montero Galan

Nona is tired of being a storybook princess. She has to walk straight, learn to play instruments, and wait for a prince to come for her. So one day, she throws her crown and decides she has had enough. She leaves her castle and becomes the greatest pirate on the seas, a knight who rescues a cat and a prince, and a juggler who makes people happy. Her father, the King, sees her happiness and, excited to have finally found her, accepts her choice to leave the job of being a princess behind. Very beautiful illustrations that remind me of the work of Salvador Dali, and what a title! What reader doesn't want to know why Nona finds being a princess so annoying?

Hoky: el Lobo Solidario
César Blanco & Blanca Bk
Hoky is a lone wolf, the last remaining wolf in the mountains of Almés. The villagers gathered up the wolves when they came down and attacked their sheep during the winter, leaving Hoky alone in a mountain cave. Jose, a boy with a flock of sheep, slowly befriends Hoky and earns his trust by leaving him bread on a rock. One day, Jose falls from a tree and hurts his head. Hoky approaches and licks Jose’s wounds and keeps him warm through the night. When the villagers learn of how Hoky helped Jose, they promise not to harm the wolves any more. But, there is more! Jose had been keeping a wolf, Mila, that he rescued as a young cub when the villagers gathered the wolves. Now Mila is grown and Jose introduces her to Hoky. Hoky is no longer alone, and he and Mila have found a good friend in Jose. This was such a beautiful book, the illustrations are crisp and fresh and there is a good message: it is amazing what creatures will do for us if we only show them kindness.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Señor Pancho Had a Rancho

Señor Pancho Had a Rancho
René Colato Laínez
Illustrated by Elwood Smith

This is a very nice bilingual English-Spanish version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, with the English verse followed by the Spanish on the adjoining page. What I really love about this book is that it will teach readers how many people who speak Spanish hear and describe the noises the farm animals in the song make. The ending is also really nice, with the farm animals from Old MacDonald’s farm and Señor Pancho’s rancho coming together to dance, para bailar!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fanciest Doll in the Universe

As a person who loves dolls, this looks like the cutest book for a doll lover.

Fancy Nancy
Fanciest Doll in the Universe
Written by Jane O'Connor
Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Doggy Slippers

Doggy Slippers
Jorge Luján (with the contribution of Latin American children)
Translated by Elisa Amado
Illustrated by Isol

I'm really excited to start the new year with this book. Doggy Slippers is a book filled with poems that are simple but so incredibly beautiful. I was immediately drawn to it because of the title; I love animals, especially dogs. Each poem is about a pet that the narrator, almost always a child, has or wants. I love the way children see the world, and these children are no different. From the child who feels that even though his bunny bites, he is still “nicer than the nicest people,” to the child that took care of his little dog when he got hit by a truck (and is now an enormous howling dog), I loved each and every one of these poems. What makes this book even more of a treasure is the detail provided about poems were gathered and came together to form a book. Each of the children from Latin American who wrote a poem that contributed to the book is named. Not only was it a good concept, but it resulted in a simple, peaceful, breathtaking treasure.