Rafi the irrepressible tree frog is back with his younger, plucky sister, Rosi, in three new adventures that all center on Puerto Rico’s El Morro fort, each short chapter featuring an element of this National Historic Site.
First, Rafi re-creates Cofresí’s battles on top of the fort’s pile of cannonballs when he discovers he’s related to the Robin Hood–like pirate. After lunch, the siblings decide to jimmy a loose brick with a stick in the fort’s kitchen. They find Spanish coins and are very excited until they realize they can’t keep them. However, Rosi asks the fort museum’s historian and is given permission to make rubbings to keep as mementos. Later that same afternoon, a “haunted” sentry box at the fort provides an opportunity for a game of hide-and-seek with a surprise ending. Publishing simultaneously in separate Spanish and English editions, the story is the same in both. However the vocabulary in the former is far more advanced than in the latter, and the glossary doesn’t address many of the potentially unfamiliar words, such as “desperdigaron” and “desparramadas.” Contrary to the “Early Fluent” designation, the Spanish edition of this early reader may prove to be a challenge for many children below the second grade. Also, the glossary in the English edition inexplicably provides anglicized phonetics for a well-known word: gracias. Instead of the common two-syllable pronunciation, the diphthong is ignored in favor of a three-syllable pronunciation, “GRAH-see-ahs.” Both editions include historical notes and activities that will be welcomed in most classrooms.
A sweet and engaging story that may need a little work to find readers who are ready for it. (Early reader. 7-9)