Award-winning author Barbieri (Rubber Shoes/Los zapatos de goma, 2011) returns with another charming bilingual picture book.
It’s Career Day at Gladys Elizabeth’s school, and the teacher asks the students to draw pictures of what they want to be when they grow up. No sooner has Gladys finished her drawing—of a pink fire truck—than her classmate Rudy shouts, “Gladys, you can’t be a fireman! Get it? Fireman, not firegirl.” Unperturbed, the spunky heroine fires back, “I can be whatever I want to be.” The debate continues during recess, and other girls join in; one goes so far as to shout, “I’m going to be the first girl president of the United States of America!” A few days later, the class goes on a field trip to a local fire station, and who should welcome them at the door but Capt. Beth? Now it’s Gladys’ turn to gloat, but Rudy still isn’t convinced. Later that afternoon, however, he falls off his bike in front of Gladys’ house and begins to cry; she comes to his rescue, paramedic kit in hand. Rudy sheepishly admits that it may not be such a bad idea for a girl to be a firefighter—but not before he makes Gladys promise not to tell anyone that she saw him cry. First-grade teacher Barbieri certainly knows how to inspire kids, and, just as importantly, she knows the little stinkers that children can sometimes be; she isn’t afraid to portray them realistically, in both English and Spanish prose, and this realism gives the story its particular charm. One minor quibble: The book occasionally uses Spanish regionalisms (such as “nos tentamos tanto de risa”) that may not be familiar to all Spanish speakers. However, its message is dead-on, and Safar’s colorful, anime-style illustrations only add to this engaging tale.
A bilingual kid’s book that’s an all-around winner.