Spanish Reviews

The Taco Magician

Bertrand, D. G. 2019. The Taco Magician and Other Poems for Kids. Arte Público Press (Piñata Books). 64pp. $9.95. (Paperback). ISBN 978-1-55-885891-6. Illustrated by Carolyn Dee.

Each poem in this collection details an important part of the life of a young Latino boy. From cooking in the kitchen with his parents to letting his imagination run wild, these poems are sure to connect with all young readers. By focusing on normal everyday life, this collection focuses on events and emotions young children ages eight to twelve can relate to. This collection also includes multiple types of contemporary narrative poetry. While each poem is structured the same way, they are each a little different. The author uses rhyme and rhythm to highlight the themes of each poem. For the more serious poems, the author uses less rhyme and a somber rhythm to provide clarity on the story behind the words. In contrast, less serious poems include more rhyme and a more upbeat rhythm. Another frequently used element is repetition. The poems in this collection use repetition to emphasize important words and phrases. There is also a lot of simple imagery included in the text. By using specific rhythms, repetition, and imagery in these poems, Bertrand easily communicates the message of each poem with her audience. One of the noteworthy characteristics of this collection is the incorporation of Spanish. Since the boy is Latino, there are a few Spanish words included in a large number of the poems. Bertrand includes them in a way which allows readers to figure out their meaning through surrounding words. So, young readers are being exposed to a new language when reading this text. Therefore, this text can promote language and cognitive development. The collection is also suitable for an ESL classroom or a classroom with a native Spanish speaker. Readers will find a Spanish version of the collection by turning the book over, or vice versa, youngsters reading the Spanish poems can turn the text over and read an English version. While there are minor differences in the poems, this option allows students who struggle with reading English but are literate in Spanish, a welcome option. Overall, this collection would be perfect for any classroom, regardless of the diverse nature of the students. (KEF)



Todos Iguales

Hale, Christy. 2019. Todos Iguales / All Equal: Un Corrido De Lemon Grove/A Ballad of Lemon Grove. Lee & Low Books Inc. (Children’s Book Press). 40pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-89-239427-2.

This ballad, written in both Spanish and English, tells the story of the Lemon Grove School case. Using music, rhyme, and focusing on plot, this ballad excites and intrigues readers 8 and older while leaving them with a message about confidently fighting for equality and the desegregation movement. The large pictures with shapes dominating most of the page increase the drama of the ballad. (EMM)




Ada, Alma Flor, and Campoy, F. Isabel.  2019. Bilingual Lullabies/Nanas: Mamá Goose.  Disney Publishing Worldwide (Disney-Hyperion). 20pp. (Board Book). $7.99. ISBN  978-1-36-804541-4. Illustrated by Maribel Suárez. First Hardcover Edition, March 2005. 

Lullabies in Spanish and English will lull infants and toddlers to sleep. Each lullaby, or nana, arrullo, arrurrpata, cancióne, is first presented in Spanish, then in English, recognizing the origins of the nanas and sharing the arrullos with English speaking youngsters. The canciones are timeless treasures from Spanish folklore. Muted and bold colors, blues, yellows, pink, grey, purple, and reds complement each lullaby and objects reinforce the verses, such as the yellow bell in “Din, don or Ding-dong.” (DLN)




Brown, Margaret Wise. Goodnight Moon/ Buenas Noches, Luna. HarperCollins. 34pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-06-236791-4. Pictures by Clement Hurd. 

This counting book in Spanish and English welcomes the addition to all libraries with newborns – age 5 audiences. One endearing quality is the connection between the first page, “One quiet old lady whispering hush,” and the last onomatopoeia of “Shhhhh.” Numbers 1 – 10, then 100, correspond with one lady, 2 kittens, 3 little bears, 4 cows, 5 telephones, 6 bowls of mush, 7 socks, 8 mittens, 9 red balloons, 10 toy houses, and 100 stars. Children may not recognize the older black desk phones or the mush (hot cereal), but the conclusion is satisfying and readers will learn to join in the phrase “Goodnight noises everywhere.” (DLN)




Rivera, Alex (The Bronxer). 2020.  Bronx Shapes: Un Libro De Bronx BEBÉ, FORMAS BILINGȔES.  Penguin Random House LLC (Kokila). 14 pp.  $7.99 (Board Book).  ISBN 978-0-59-311081-2.

The bilingual format of English/Spanish will appeal to youngsters ages 2 – 4 who are speaking or learning both languages.  The shapes–a square, triangle, circles, octagon, oval, rectangle, and diamond–are from recognizable objects in the Bronx. For example, a baseball field represents the diamond.  In addition to shape recognition, children can identify the  colors, red, yellow, green, silver, and blue. (DLN)




Rivera, Alex (The Bronxer). 2020.  Bronx  Tones: Un Libro De Bronx BEBÉ, FORMAS BILINGȔES.  Penguin Random House LLC (Kokila). 14 pp.  $7.99 (Board Book).  ISBN 978-0-593-11078-2.

Young readers, ages 2 – 4 will value the reference to colors in a Bronx neighborhood presented in English and Spanish.  An orange tie is removed and a child wears a blue hat.  Children purchase tamales from “carrito verde.” The pineapple is yellow, the wand for blowing bubbles is violet, the balloon is red,  the flower is pink. (DLN)




Ortiz, Raquel M. 2019.  When Julia Danced Bomba/Cuando Julia Bailaba Bomba.  Arté Publico Press (Piñata Books).  32 pp. $17.95.  ISBN 978-1558858862.  Illustrated by Flor DeVita.

“When Julia Danced Bomba” is a story about a dancer overcoming her fear and finding her rhythm. This bilingual (English/Spanish) book also has a description at the end about bomba dancing, a style of dancing from Puerto Rico. “When Julia Danced Bomba” celebrates practicing cultural traditions and encourages children to have confidence in themselves. (DLN)“Cuando Julia bailaba bomba” es una historia sobre una bailarina que supera su miedo y encuentra su ritmo. Este libro bilingüe (inglés/español) también tiene una descripción al final sobre bomba, un estilo de baile de Puerto Rico. “Cuando Julia bailaba bomba” celebra la práctica de tradiciones culturales y anima a los niños a tener confianza en sí mismos.




Guy, Ginger Foglesong. 2019. Días y días/Days and Days. Greenwillow Books. 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0061731822.  Illustrated by René King Moreno.

A bilingual (Spanish/English) book of just a few words for each season of the year, including the names of the months. With colorful illustrations of children playing outdoors in all weather, this book is a fun introduction to seasons and the names of the months for young children. (DLN)

Un libro bilingüe (inglés/español) de solo pocas palabras para cada estación del año, incluyendo los meses del año. Con ilustraciones coloridas de niños jugando al aire libre en cualquier clima, este libro es una introducción divertida a las estaciones y los nombres de los meses para niños pequeños. 




 Argueta, Jorge.  2019.  Fuego, Fueguito/Fire, Little Fire. Arté Publico Press (Piñata Books). 32 pp. $17.95.  ISBN 978-1558858879.  Illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcantara. 

This poem-turned-book celebrates the natural beauty and power of fire. English and Spanish versions of the poem are accompanied by illustrations dominated with orange, yellow, and red colors. The author also includes the text of the poem in Nahaut, the language of the indigenous Pipil Nahua, at the end of the book. Symbols in the illustrations suggest the connection to the Pipil Nahua. A sequel to a book about water, “Fire, Little Fire” invites children to see fire almost magically within the natural world. (DLN)

Este poema convertido en libro celebra la belleza natural y el poder del fuego. Las versiones en inglés y español están acompañadas por ilustraciones dominadas con colores de naranja, amarillo, y rojo. El autor también incluye el texto del poema en el idioma del indígena Pipil Nahua, Nahaut, al final del libro. Hay símbolos en las ilustraciones que sugieren la conexión con el Pipil Nahua. Una secuela a un libro sobre el agua, “Fuego, fueguito” invita a los niños a ver el fuego casi mágicamente en la naturaleza. 



Book Covers

Gonzalez, Raul. 2019. ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Versify). 48pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-32-855726-1.

After breakfast, Lobo shops at the market for eggs, pasta, milk, and meat. He delivers the items to several places. The Spanish/English text is accessible to speakers of both languages, and the short sentences will appeal to beginning readers, ages 4 - 7, or anyone learning Spanish or English for the first time. The bright colors such as pink, orange, yellow, and green represent an upbeat and happy setting. Shapes are used to identify what part of the novel comes next. The dark outline of the buildings and characters differentiate from characters. (AFV)   


El Baile De Octavo

De Jesus, Ada. El Baile de Octavo y Otros Recuerdos/The Eighth Grade Dance and Other Memories. Arte Público Press (Piñata Books). 160pp. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-55-885885-5.

As if being a pre-teen isn’t hard enough, imagine having to deal with the hard changes and having to adjust to a completely new culture. Ada is an 11-year-old from Puerto Rico who moved to Chicago because hurricane Hugo destroyed her house. Despite the constant moving, Ada said if she kept moving, she would never fall over. This biography allows the reader to see through the lens of someone who is trying to accommodate American traditions while trying to understand the awkward stages of life. Additionally, this biography has the unique characteristic of being written in both Spanish and English. With the experience of being an immigrant, it helps readers understand what Ada experienced and what she had to do to overcome her obstacles. This is appropriate for readers who move to the United States or anywhere that is not their native home for several reasons and have to adjust. (KALV)   


Blue Sky White Stars

Naberhaus, Sarvinder. 2019. Blue Sky White Stars Un Cielo Azul Blancas Estrellas. Penguin Random House LLC (Puffin Books). 40pp. $8.99 (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-80-373700-6. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson, first published in 2017.

Red, blue, and white are colors of significance for people living in the United States of America. Vocabulary is central to the plot, one word, on two separate pages Textures of the wind on the flag, wrinkles on the elderly, and hair give the images a realistic feel. Additionally, there are vibrant colors used on every page and the impeccable realism.  This reflects the diversity of people in the United States. The vibrant red on multiple pages conveyed the fall season as it is on a tree. The blue is meant to convey a sense of calmness in the sky and in the water. Ultimately, the reader knows there is a deeper meaning once the three colors come together in the flag. Most importantly, there is a range of skin tones that are used for people. The reader gets a sense of the diversity that is present in America. The different skin tones reflect diversity. The bilingual Spanish/English style, reaches youngsters who speak one or both languages. This represents inclusivity from the important author’s note on the importance of the flag to the realism of people on the cover, Blue Sky White Stars Un Cielo Azul Blancas Estrellas is a book recommended to children between the ages of 4-8. (KALV)    


My Papi has a Motorcycle

Quintero, Isabel. 2019. My Papi Has a Motorcycle. Penguin Random House LLC (Kokila). 40pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-52-555341-0. Illustrated by Zeke Peña. 

A motorcycle to Daisy and her dad is more than just a couple of pieces of metal. The motorcycle is their way of being able to go on different adventures around their neighborhood. Even when her dad is excessively tired, he still finds the energy to spend time with Daisy. Nonetheless, every single building has some sort of history or a connection with Daisy starting with her grandma’s church and Joy’s Market where her mom buys gummy bears. The floating gummy bears around the market also add more of a visual for those barely starting to read. There are murals Daisy says represent the history of the immigrants who worked in the citrus groves and the races on Grand Boulevard. Excited to finally be approaching Don Rudy’s Raspados, Daisy and her father are filled with great sadness when they see the small business has been closed. This represents a person vs. society conflict, better known as gentrification. With so many changes happening in the neighborhood, it is often difficult for the humble business owners to keep their store open. This idea introduces young readers to what may be happening in the neighborhood they live in or around them. Their last stop on their adventure is the house her dad is building. This is also the last house of Citrus Grove, another example of gentrification. Once they are finally home, Daisy mentions how even though there are always changes happening around her, she knows at home is where things will always be the same. The subtle pinks and blues along with the bright oranges and blues, convey a welcoming feeling. The inclusion of Spanish phrases reflects the home culture and language of Daisy, and contributes to the bilingual appeal to readers, ages 4-8.