Friday, December 31, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Isla and Abuela

Isla and Abuela, by Arthur Dorros

Both of these books were originally written in English, but the translated versions are a good addition to a thematic unit about New York City (Abuela), Puerto Rico (Isla), fantasy, or family. The stories revolve around the relationship between a young girl and her young-at-heart grandmother. Dorros illustrated the stories using mixed-media collage - and each illustration can be used as the center of a lesson or for practicing adjectives, since they are detailed and complex enough for long descriptions. A lovely addition to a FLES or immersion library, and appropriate for middle - and even high school students of Spanish.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Harry, el perrito sucio

Harry, el perrito sucio, by Gene Zion

In keeping with my "trade books in translation" series, here's one from our guest commentator, Nikolas:

Niko dice: "El libro se trata de un perrito blanco con manchas negras que no le gusta banarse. Un dia, se escapa de la casa porque es su dia de banarse. Y cuando vuelve a la casa, esta tan sucio, que ya es un perro negro con manchas blancas! Su familia no lo reconoce y el trata de hacer todos los trucos que le ensenaron para si lo reconocen.   Recomiendo este libro para ninos de kinder hasta el segundo grado."

Lori says: "The language in this book is perfect for second semester beginning students or 2nd year students. It could also work with immersion classes. It's got a cute message, and kids are likely to have read it in English. An oldie but goodie!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Los colores de Elmer

Los colores de Elmer, by David McKee

Another excellent trade book worth having in translation - Elmer is a happy-go-lucky elephant who learns to be happy with his colorful body. The stories explore issues of diversity, identity and acceptance. The illustrations are colorful and fun, and the text is nice and simple - a good book for FLES and immersion classes, since chances are that young children will have read the story in English at home or in class. The books come in many different bilingual versions, among them Arabic, ChineseItalian, PolishTurkish, Urdu and Vietnamese. Other titles in the series include: Elmer's Special Day, Elmer's New Friend, Elmer's Weather, and Elmer and Wilbur.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Niko's PICKS: La oruga muy hambrienta; La chenille qui fait des trous

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

This is another one of those translated trade books that you just can't do without in the FLES, immersion or beginning language classroom. The book is available in many languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and many more). Through the simple text, students learn about the life cycle of a catepillar/butterfly, while also learning good food and days of the week vocabulary words. Another must-have addition to your library!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Niko's PICKS: El Cuento de Ferdinando

El Cuento de Ferdinando by Munro Leaf

I don't normally love trade books in translation, but there are a few that are worth mentioning... The first one is the story of Ferdinand the bull. This is the perfect compliment to a thematic unit about the bullfight, animal rights, or just simply one about Spain. Ferdinand is a peaceful bull who prefers to sit and smell the flowers while his friends are fighting. Ferdinand is mistakenly chosen to travel to Madrid to fight in the bullring, but he is distracted by the roses the beautiful ladies throw into the ring and he just sits... and smells the roses! The illustrations are black-and-white, but are very expressive and comical. This book could be used in elementary-aged classes - and all the way up to high school. Older students will love the opportunity to debate the bullfight using Ferdinand as a talking point. Olé!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Chamario: Libro De Rimas Para Niños

Chamario: Libro De Rimas Para Niños, by Eduardo Polo and Eugenio Montejo
This wonderful tiny book is a collection of short poems and rhymes that play with words and language. For example:

(from El Hipopótamo)
El hipopó tamo-tamo
y el elefán fan-fan
dentro de un mismo pantano
bailando juntos están...
Whimsical illustrations make this book a real treasure!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Margarita

Margarita, by Ruben Dario

This picturebook version of a poem by Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario is a lovely addition to a poetry unit, or one about explorations, dreams, or heroes. Students can read the story and view the video version (see below). The story includes some religious references, a king and magical events. A perfect story for a Christmas morning!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Emilie et le petit sapin

Emilie et le petit sapin, by Domitille de Pressense

Emilie sets out to find the perfect Christmas tree and she likes the smallest one the best (very much a la Charlie Brown!) When she goes to cut it down, she feels bad about separating the small tree from its mother and father, so she decides that rather than taking it home to decorate, she will leave it growing in the forest and decorates it there! Lovely simple illustrations and simple text - perfect for a holiday or environmental thematic unit. Joyeux Noël et bonne année, mes amis!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Vuelo del Quetzal

Vuelo del Quetzal, by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy

Part of the Santillana series Puertas al sol, this book is an excellent resource for a thematic unit about the environment, biomes, and animals. Each few pages include very simple language (excellent for FLES, immersion and beginners!) and ample illustrations centered around the following headings: Tierra de contrastes, Le cubren plantas diversas, En sus cielos, En sus playas y mares, En sus selvas, En las ciénagas y ríos, Y desde el desierto hasta las ventanas, ¡Un mundo lleno de sorpresas!, En respuesta a la naturaleza asombrosa, Ayer, para celebrar la belleza de su alrededor, Hoy continúan creando belleza, Y todo esto es Hispanoamérica.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Discover the World Series (P is for Piñata)

The "Discover the World" series of books offers a good resource for FLES teachers. The books highlight important elements from each culture in simple language combined with expressive illustrations. Each letter in the alphabet includes a different topic with its own picture. In the P is for Piñata book, for example, the topics include: A is for adobe, C is for cacao, D is for Diego Rivera, and R is for Rain God. While these books are written in English, they are very easy to re-write in the target language and provide an excellent opportunity for students to talk about the scenes, important people, practices and products of each culture. Here are some of the titles in this series:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Niko's PICKS: La verdadera historia de los tres cerdos and Los tres cerdos: Nacho, Tito y Miguel

La verdadera historia de los tres cerditos/The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciszka and Lane Smith

Los Tres Cerdos/The Three Pigs: Nacho, Tito y Miguel, by Bobbi Salinas

These two fun bilingual books each offers a different version of the traditional "Three Little Pigs" story. The Jon Sciszka book includes the perspective of the wolf in the story, while the Bobbi Salinas version is a non-violent take on the story set in the Southwest. Each story offers a new perspective on the traditional tale and would add nicely to a folktale/fairytale unit in which students compare and contrast the stories, the characters, the settings, etc. The language in both books is somewhat advanced and would need to be edited/re-written for FLES or beginning students. Still, they are both worth a bit of work and would fit well into an elementary and/or immersion curriculum.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Pelé, El rey del fútbol

Pelé, El rey del fútbol/Pelé, King of Soccer, by Monica Brown

With expressive illustrations by Rudy Gutiérrez, this book is a really good resource for thematic units about sports, heros, or even about careers and future goals. The bilingual Spanish/English text tells the story of Brazilian soccer legend, Pelé. We learn about his life growing up in the impoverished region of Tres Coraçoes in Brazil, and about Pelé's promise to win the World Cup one day. The Spanish text is somewhat challenging for beginning proficiency students, but the story could be easily re-written to tell Pelé's story in simpler language. This book will be a hit with both boy and girl students - especially those who are soccer and/or World Cup fans!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Cuadros de Familia and En mi familia

Cuadros de familia/Family Pictures and En mi familia/In My Family
by Carmen Lomas Garza

Both of these exceptional books are a must-have for any Checkpoint A/Beginning level Spanish teachers. Through simple bilingual Spanish/English text, the author/artist gives the reader a loving glimpse of her family, her childhood home, celebrations, holidays and traditions. It is perfect for teaching house and home, daily routines, and so much more - and what is most exciting is that these books offer an authentic cultural context for all that level 1 vocabulary! Compare/contrast activities with Venn Diagrams, T-charts and other graphic organizers are a good way of tapping into that Comparisons and Cultures standards through the images and text of the book. The paintings are all beautiful, colorful and filled with great detail so students can really dive into the scenes and have interesting interpersonal conversations with a partner or small group. MIL GRACIAS, Sra. Lomas Garza! It's almost as if you wrote these books just for us!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Nina Bonita

Niña Bonita, by Ana María Machado

This book is one of my all-time favorites, published by one of my all-time favorite publishing houses: Ediciones Ekaré from Venezuela. The story tells of a white rabbit who dreams of being as beautiful and black as his friend, la niña bonita. He tries everything to be as dark as his friend - including drinking tons of black coffee! In the end, he meets a beautiful black rabbit and they end up having little bunny babies of every color - white, black and grey. The story is a wonderful way of talking about issues of identity, race and body image with students. The illustrations are lovely and include street scenes of Caracas and other cultural elements. The language of the text of the story is appropriate for more advanced students, but the story is well worth a re-write in simpler prose for use with younger students. A MUST READ for all Spanish teachers!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Niko's PICKS: Accidente celeste

Accidente celeste/Sky Blue Accident, by Jorge Luján

This beautiful poem - written in Spanish and English - tells the magical story of a little boy who crashes into the sky, breaks some pieces off, and then shares them with other children. The events are simple, and the text on each page is minimal, so this book can be used with FLES and elementary classes, as well as with intermediate or advanced students as an introduction to a poetry unit or as a means of inpiring creative writing. It also has great potential for connecting to literature like that of Gabriel García Márquez and magic realism. The illustrations are lovely - a mix of gouache and pastel - and very child-friendly.