Kirkus Reviews QR Code
IN ENGLISH, OF COURSE by Josephine Nobisso

IN ENGLISH, OF COURSE

By Josephine Nobisso (Author) , Dasha Ziborova (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-940112-07-8
Publisher: Gingerbread House

A plucky small girl in a new classroom manages to tell a story in English, even though it isn’t quite the one she intended. It’s 1955: Josephine’s teacher asks each student to tell a bit about themselves and where they are from. She listens carefully to Ling-Li and to Juan, but although she understands a lot of English, she’s not sure she has all the words she needs. When she tells the class she is from Napoli, Italia, her teacher asks if she lived on a farm, and she replies, “I go to farm one time.” From this single visit, with coaching from her teacher, Josephine reconstructs being kicked by a cow, and the cow pushed by a pig, into a river, and her getting them both out of the water. Josephine’s inventive dialogue captures the sound of a person searching for the shape of the right English word, and her success spurs her to go home to ask her parents how to say “Roman ruins” and “architectural engineers”—in English, of course. Ziborova’s (Crispin the Turtle, not reviewed) exuberant cut-paper and mixed-media collages are a fine foil for the text: Josephine’s elegant male teacher wears pinstripes; pictures and sketches of Naples float over architectural diagrams, and the cow and the pig have comically exaggerated features. Josephine herself wears a ’50s schoolgirl suit and a beret, and her quicksilver expressions might remind one of the illimitable Eloise. An author’s postscript relates Josephine’s story to the author’s own life as a child in Little Italy in the Bronx, but any child will respond to the joy of Josephine’s storytelling. (Picture book. 5-8)