TWICE AS MANY FRIENDS / EL DOBLE DE AMIGOS

A lively—and catchy—springboard to Spanish-language acquisition.

A bilingual song celebrating friendship and community.

As the book opens, we see a family flying to Puerto Rico, where they surf and build sand castles. “It always makes me happy to understand what people say,” the young narrator tells us. “If they say ¿Quieres jugar? / It means Do you want to play?” The family enjoys the conga drummers’ contagious beat and joins the locals in a festive dance. But the cheerful bilingual experience continues even when the family returns home, because “sometimes people come to live here / from places far away.” Asking “¿Cómo te llamas?” invites the newcomers to share their names. The result? “Twice as many friends, / twice as much fun / That’s why two languages / are better than one!” Amador’s rhyming bilingual story and song links a jaunty English-only refrain to two sets of four easy English-Spanish couplets. Selective repetition encourages language learning whether in a group or reading on one’s own. Starkoff’s bright, warm colors make her flat illustrations pop. The book ends with a link to an animated video with the song performed by Amador’s band Sol y Canto along with the score. Translations for the various Spanish phrases, with pronunciation help, are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lively—and catchy—springboard to Spanish-language acquisition. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781646868452

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

HEY, DUCK!

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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