Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Mexican Folk Art and Concepts meet with Animal Talk!

animal talkAnimal Talk: Mexican Folk Art Animal Sounds in English and Spanish, by Cynthia Weill/Art by Rubi Fuentes and Efrain Broa (March 2016, Cinco Puntos Press), $14.95, ISBN: 9781941026328

Recommended for Infants-5

Animals talk in all sorts of languages! Animal Talk translates animal sounds in Spanish and English, using beautiful folk art to illustrate the concepts. It makes sense that different languages would interpret animal sounds differently, after all – when an English speaker hears a cat meow, a Spanish speaker hears a cat miau. A rooster greets the dawn in the U.S. by hollering, “cock-a-doodle-doo!”, and in Spanish countries, he calls out, “ki-kiri-ki!” It’s a wonderful way to see how sounds are the same, yet different, between two cultures.

I love this series. Doctor Cynthia Weill has written several concept books featuring Mexican folk art, including Opuestos, Colores de la Vida, and ABeCedarios. Animal Talk is her fifth book in this series, and it’s a fantastic addition for a library like mine, in a neighborhood densely populated with Central and South American families, and it’s a great library addition to any library where you have little ones ready for a storytime. The artwork is breathtaking. Mexican folk art is vibrant, lively, and bright – eye-catching to little eyes and minds! Animal sounds make for great storytimes; teaching animal sounds in different languages makes for even more fun. It lends itself to a great interactive experience!

The books themselves are works of art; not even an exaggeration. Craftsman Rubí Fuentes and Efraín Broa from the Mexican state of Oaxaca create these beautiful images, and you’ll want to buy an additional book just to frame the artwork in here.

One thing I desperately need is for these books to come out in board book. They’re beautiful hardcovers, but I’ve got lots of little hands that would get even better use out of them if moms, dads, and librarians didn’t have to worry about torn pages so much.

Put this in your animal storytime, and throw in a round of Old MacDonald Had a Farm while you’re at it – and make the animal sounds in both languages!

Cynthia Weill’s author webpage features a video about the artists who made the wood carvings for her book, Opuestos. Show this video to your older patrons and students to show them the work that goes into these beautiful books. Take a look at more of the gorgeous art from Animal Talk right here!

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized

Conspiracy Girl- a new heroine on the scene?

conspiracy girlConspiracy Girl, by Karen Chacek/Illus. by Abraham Balcazar (Sept 2015, Cinco Puntos Press), $14.95, ISBN: 9781935955986

Recommended for ages 8-13

It all starts when Nina’s born. She’s a girl, which sets off riots, because everyone expected a boy. Then, these mangy, shifty looking birds follow her home from the hospital. All Nina needs is her dad’s laughter, though, to see through grown-ups’ crazy behavior, and a box of cereal and her imagination to fend off the birds. It seems that the birds are out to get Nina, and she’s going to save the world by seeing them for what they really are.

While I enjoyed the art for Conspiracy Girl, the story took several readings to click for me. I’m concerned it will go over many younger readers’ heads, and that older readers – think fans of Emily the Strange -may have a hard time connecting with Nina and her story. That said, it does make for an interesting read, and can spark some interesting discussions about Nina, her father, and how exactly she’s going to save the world.

Conspiracy Girl was originally published in Spanish in 2009.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Walking Home to Rosie Lee: A boy’s search for his mother, post-Civil War

rosie leeWalking Home to Rosie Lee, by A. LaFaye, illus. by Keith D. Shepherd (Sept. 2015, Cinco Puntos Press), $7.95, ISBN: 9781941026052

Recommended for ages 6-10

The Civil War is finally over. The slaves have been freed. Young Gabe is searching for his mother, Rosie, who was sold before the war’s end. Told in the first person through Gabe’s perspective, Walking Home to Rosie Lee chronicles Gabe’s search for his mother.

This is a 2-hankie book, everyone. I’ve got three sons, and reading Gabe’s earnest voice describing his mother’s appearance, his potential joy and disappointment, his fear, just struck me right in the heart. It’s a beautiful story about the love of a son for his mother, and a small story within the larger story of the struggle that freed slaves went through, post-Civil War, to find their families and start their lives. We learn about the Freedman’s Bureaus, where freed slaves could go to find pictures and news of their relatives, and the importance of word of mouth – and sheer luck.

Keith D. Shepherd’s artwork is beautiful, truly enhancing the story with striking images like young Gabe, sleeping next to a woman he discovered on the search for his mother. Gabe, the focus for the book, is striking, with his huge, loving eyes. You want this boy to find his mother, you want everyone on that trail, that search, to be reunited with their families. The artwork gives this story a deeper pathos than words alone can reach.

rosie lee_6

Walking Home to Rosie Lee is a beautiful story of love and reunion. Put this one on your shelves, parents and educators, and read it often. Talk about it often.

Walking Home to Rosie Lee was a Stepping Stones Honor book, a 2012 IRA Teachers Choice Selection, 2012 Bank Street School of Education Best Books of the Year Selection, and a Nominee for the 2012 Kentucky Bluegrass Award. It will be published through Cinco Puntos Press in September 2015. There is an educator’s guide on the author’s website.