I love bilignual picture books because it gives access to literature to our students who are still learning English. Books specifically from Arte Público Press also are so good at making sure a variety of kids are represented in their books which is so heartwarming because I know so many ESL students do not see themselves in books. Another positive of bilingual books is for learning Spanish also. I hope Trent gets into a dual language program for elementary school, so bilingual picture books will be perfect for him and his classmates. Here are some of my new-to-me favorite bilingual picture books from Arte Público Press!
Growing Up with Tamales | Los tamales de Ana
Author: Gwendolyn Zepeda
Illustrator: April Ward
Published May 31st, 2008
Summary: My name is Ana. Every year, my family makes tamales for Christmas. This year, I am six, so I get to mix the dough, which is made of cornmeal. My sister Lidia is eight, so she gets to spread the dough on the corn husk leaves. I wish I was eight, so that my hands would be big enough to spread the dough just right–not too thick and not too thin.
And so the years pass, and Ana turns eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen. But every year, big sister Lidia is always two years older. Ana envies her elder sibling and wishes she could do what Lidia does: put just the right amount of meat inside the tamales and roll them up; steam the tamales without scalding herself with the hot, hot steam; chop and cook the meat for the tamales without cutting or burning her hands.
When she turns eighteen, though, Ana knows she will keep making tamales and she will be able to do all of the steps herself in her very own factory. When Christmas comes around, Ana will deliver tamales to all of her customers around the world, in delivery trucks that say Ana’s Tamales. And maybe Ana will even let Lidia work for her.
Gwendolyn Zepeda’s rhythmic prose is combined with April Ward’s bright illustrations to create an affectionate and amusing story about sibling relationships that introduces an important Hispanic holiday tradition — making tamales!
A Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended Title
ForeWord Book of the Year Awards Finalist
Tejas Star Book Award Finalist
My Thoughts: I love the focus on seeing ahead to the future in this book. Although Ana is a bit jealous of her older sister, she can look to the future and see that she is going to be able to accomplish everything her sister does, and she has such high ambitions even past what she knows is coming. I also loved the inclusion of family. Tamales are obviously a tradition and something that is important to Ana and her family so much that the process is passed down. It is always so touching to see a great family unit in a picture book.
Esteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! | Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés
Author: Larissa M. Mercado-López
Illustrator: Alex Pardo DeLange
Published May 31st, 2017
Summary: It’s a bird…it’s a plane..it’s Esteban de Luna!
With whimsical illustrations by Alex Pardo DeLange, Larissa M. Mercado-López’s first bilingual picture book, Esteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! | Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés, features a kind and compassionate boy who learns how to be a superhero in an unexpected way.
Esteban wears his green cape every day. He wears it to breakfast. He wears it to the park. He even wears it to the grocery story. The only problems is that it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t help him fly or become invisible. He decides to sell it.
Just then his mother tells him they’re going to the park, so Esteban puts his cape back on. At the park, he sees a baby doll on the swings. Suddenly a story blows in, and Esteban’s mom calls him to run home. If Esteban leaves the doll, it will get wet and dirty. So he wraps the doll in his cape and ties it back on. “Don’t worry, baby! I’ll save you!”
On the way home, he jumps over puddles and walks under awnings to keep the baby dry. At home, he wears the doll in his cape as he plays and does his chores. That night — with the baby clean and dry — the boy feels like a super hero. He will not sell his cape after all. “From now on, I am Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!”
This charming bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8 will generate dialogue about what it means to be a boy while broadening the definition of masculinity to include tenderness and caring.
My Thoughts: Such a cute book! It does so much to promote imagination and play which always makes me so happy. I love that Esteban gets a baby in this book! So often boys are steered away from playing house or playing with dolls, but I really believe that pretending with dolls really builds caring and empathy with kids and we shouldn’t take that away from our boys.
(One question though that bothered me though: What about the poor kid that lost the baby?!?! They must be so sad!)
The Little Doctor | El doctorcito
Author: Juan J. Guerra
Illustrator: Victoria Castillo
Published April 4th, 2017
Summary: The doctor is in! A young boy’s visit to the clinic with his grandmother leads to a career aspiration.
In Juan Guerra’s engaging bilingual picture book, The Little Doctor | El doctorcito, a young Salvadoran boy dreams of becoming a doctor who speaks both English and Spanish so that patients like his beloved grandmother aren’t afraid to visit the doctor.
Salvador raced home from school to share exciting news with his abuela, he made an A+ on his science test! But at home, he learns that his grandmother needs his help. She is going to the doctor and wants her grandson to interpret for her. Abuela is nervous because she has never been to a doctor in the United States. In El Salvador, she either saw a curandera or drank té de manzanilla when she felt sick.
When he learns that none of the physicians speak Spanish, the boy realizes that he is completely responsible for making sure the doctor understand his grandmother — and that he understands his instructions! But in spite of his help, the visit does not go well. The doctor rushes in and out. He doesn’t listen to Abuela. And he tells Salvador that she should not eat so much Mexican food! Abuela is so upset that she threatens not to take the medicine the doctor prescribes! What can Salvador do to help her?
Paired with lovely, colorful illustrations by Victoria Castillo, this book for ages 4-8 will encourage kids to think about their own futures as well as the role their culture can play in helping the community.
My Thoughts: I love (yet am saddened–I’ll explain) that a Salvadoran doctor was compelled to write a book to show the hardships many kids face as their parents/grandparents use them as translators. It must be so hard for both parties: to be an adult and have no schooling or any way to learn English AND to be a kid who does know English and have to be an adult so young because of translating needs. I hated how mean the doctor was in the book, but I know that it really helped with the point of the book–more doctors for our immigrants are needed either ones who know Spanish or are sympathetic. And I’m so happy that Juan became a doctor–shows kids the lack of limits in the future no matter your heritage.
Dalia’s Wondrous Hair | El cabello maravilloso de Dalia
Author: Laura Lacámara
Published May 1st, 2014
Summary: Butterflies in your beehive?! A girl’s imagination grows into a garden in this bilingual picture book.
In Dalia’s Wondrous Hair | El cabello maravilloso de Dalia, author and illustrator Laura Lacámara delights children ages 4-9 with her vibrant illustrations and an imaginative story about a girl’s fanciful encounters with nature in this bilingual picture book.
One night, while Dalia slept safely wrapped in her mother’s cool silken sheets, her hair grew and grew. By the time the rooster crowed, her hair had “grown straight up to the sky, tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree.” Her mother was amazed and wondered what her daughter would do with her wondrous hair.
As Dalia looked at the flowers blooming in the garden, an idea sprouted inside her. She decorated her hair with leaves from the forest and mud from the marsh. Her mother was puzzled and could not imagine what she was. “Are you a leaf-crusted mud-tree?” she guessed incorrectly. That night, while Dalia slept safely cocooned in her mama’s sheets, something stired and unfolded. When the rooster crowed, the girl ran outside and everyone watched in awe as she carefully unwrapped her towering hair. Could it be? Is Dalia a…blossoming butterfly tree?!
In this whimsical bilingual picture book, Dalia’s hair becomes a magical force of nature, a life giving cocoon. Bonus features include a guide for how to create your own butterfly garden at home, as well as a bilingual glossary of select plant and animal species native to the island of Cuba.
Américas Award Commended Title
Named to the Tejas Star Reading List
My Thoughts: Whimsical is a perfect adjective for this book! Dalia is so free spirited and throughout much of the book, you have no idea why she is doing what she is doing. You are as puzzled as her mom. But the ending is beautiful and all of Dalia’s intentions are clear. Her hair really is wondrous!
The Runaway Piggy | El conchinito fugitivo
Author: James Luna
Illustrator: Laura Lacámara
Published November 30th, 2010
Summary: In the classic tradition of The Gingerbread Man, James Luna’s piggy cookie leaps off the baking tray in Martha’s Panaderia and takes the reader on a mad dash through the barrio, past Lorenzo’s Auto Shop, Nita’s Beauty Salon, Leti’s Flower Shop, and Juana’s Thrift Shop. Each person the piggy encounters is greeted by his high laugh and the repeated refrain: “Chase me! Chase me down the street! But this is one piggy you won’t get to eat! I ran away from the others and I’ll run away from you!” The cochinito fugitivo avoids being eaten by the long line of people chasing him . . . until he meets a crafty little girl named Rosa!
Children and adults too will delight in the clever piggy’s escape from Martha’s Panaderia in this entertaining retelling of a familiar story set in a colorful Latino neighborhood. A recipe to make Mexican gingerbread pig cookies is included in both English and Spanish.
Named to the Tejas Star Book Award List
My Thoughts: What a fun retelling of The Gingerbread Man! I think this book a perfect pairing with a community unit in an early education classroom. While it is a fun story of chasing a piggy cookie, it also shows so many different aspects of Martha’s neighborhood and gives another type of community to see and learn about 🙂
Grandma’s Chocolate | El chocolate de abuelita
Author: Mara Price
Illustrator: Lisa Fields
Published November 30th, 2010
Summary: Abuela’s visits from Mexico are always exciting for young Sabrina, who can’t wait to see what’s in her grandmother’s suitcase. “Abuelita, do you want to play a game? Let’s pretend that I’m a princess,” Sabrina says. “Okay,” Abuela says, “but a Mayan princess should wear a beautiful dress called a huipil.” And she pulls out the traditional garment worn by Mayan and Aztec women.
Sabrina has lots of questions about her ancestors. With her grandmother’s help, Sabrina learns all about the cacao tree, which was first cultivated by Mexico’s indigenous tribes. Today, the seeds give us chocolate, but years ago they were used as money. And Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, liked to eat chocolate poured over bowls of snow !
Sabrina discovers that “chocolate is perfect for a Mayan princess.” And children will agree as they curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and this charming bilingual picture book that depicts a loving relationship and shares the history and customs of the native peoples of Mexico.
Winner, International Latino Book Award
Honor Book, Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
Winner, San Diego Book Award
Named to the Tejas Star Book Award List
My Thoughts: Anyone who has a grandmother visit knows the warmness that comes with her visit, and Sabrina’s visit with her grandmother from Mexico is no different. Through the visit, Sabrina asks many different questions about her ancestors and Mexico, and her grandmother tells her about cacao trees which have a huge history in Mexico. As grandmother’s visit ends, you feel as sad as Sabrina!
All Recommended For:
**Thank you to Eloisa from Arte Público for sharing these books with me!**
2 thoughts on “New-to-Me Favorite Bilingual Picture Books from Arte Público Press: Growing Up with Tamales by Gwendolyn Zepeda; Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer! by Larissa M. Mercado-López; The Little Doctor by Juan J. Guerra; Dalia’s Wondrous Hair by Laura Lacámara; The Runaway Piggy by James Luna; Grandma’s Chocolate by Por Mara Price”
Great list of bilingual children’s books! Own voices are so important and need our support. #diversekidlit
Thanks for sharing these books. I am currently building collections of children’s books in Spanish for several libraries and these look like ones we should include.