Books I Like

Handimals
By Silvia Lopez
Illustrations by Guido Daniele

This is an spectacular book. The author contacted the artist who paints hands and arms into wild animals that almost look real. For the photos alone, this book is a gift-worthy buy for any age group. But because it’s about wild animals, a favorite subject for kids, it’s also educational. Author Silvia Lopez writes beautifully with plenty of information about these amazing animals, and Guido Daniele, the artist is nothing short of amazing. This book has to be seen.

Pacho Nacho
by Silvia Lopez
Illustrations by Pablo Pino

Pacho Nacho, based on an old Japanese folktale has been modified by author Silvia Lopez to better reflect the language and people we are more accustomed to here in the United States. In the story, the main character is given a string of names (the author uses Spanish nicknames) and the family admonishes everyone to use every single name when addressing Pacho Nacho. Naturally, one day, in a rush situation, the name gets in the way. Kids love silly stories, and this is one in which the practical solution is arrived at after a few laughs.

Always with You
by Ruth Vander Zee
Illustrated by Ron Himler

Pacho Nacho, based on an old Japanese folktale has been modified Children who have lost a parent could find comfort in Always with You, a touching and serious picture book for an older age group (8-12). Based on a true story, it recounts a bombing of a village in Vietnam, and the four-year-old girl who survived it. Her mother, however, does not. Before she dies, she whispers her final words “Don’t be afraid. I will always be with you.” American soldiers eventually rescue her and take her to an orphanage, but it is the mother’s words that Kim never forgets and that help her finally feel strong and safe again. Ruth Vander Zee builds this poignant picture both in lyrical, yet realistic language and tenderly forms a narrative about loss and grief and about the ability

Save the Crash Test Dummies
Save the Crash Test Dummies
By Jennifer Swason

The book is a hoot (imagine saying that about a book about safety engineering). The author introduces us to her “main characters” of sorts—the crash-test dummy, more accurately an entire family of crash-test dummies and a crash-test dog. The dummies come in all sizes. She brings up an obese dummy and an elderly one, more frail and with brittle “bones.” A valid addition what with the Boomer generation driving longer than is healthy for others on the road. (Yes, we should most certainly Uber everywhere or hire a chauffeur. But that’s another book). There is a pedestrian dummy and one that rides a bicycle to help self-driving cars to interact with bicyclists. Great photographs and illustrations of the dummies. Pictures of older and futuristic cars, failed safety features from the early years of the automobile, and other historical moments add color and fun. The diagrams help explain the intricacies involved. For the grammar sticklers out there, I did find a typo or two, which I’m sure was an error of the copyeditor as the author knows her grammar. Even those who don’t think they enjoy engineering will be pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed every page (and learned something, too). Jennifer Swanson writes in a lively voice, not allowing the reader to become bored. She makes the more difficult aspects of safety engineering accessible through her comparisons. Highly recommended, especially for children interested in vehicles and engineering.

Bella‘s Recipe for Success
by Ana Siqueira
Illustrations by Geraldine Rodríguez

BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS is a glimpse into a multi-generational Latine family and the good advice about finding what you’re good at and not giving up until you do. As a former teacher of ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages), I am selective about bilingual books that don’t read fluently for those who don’t speak the other language, in this case, Spanish. This is a bilingual story, but Engish-only speakers can understand almost all of it from context. Bella can’t do cartwheels, and her piano playing sounds like elephant feet, but her abuela gets her into baking. Although her first attempt at dulce de leche is a bust, she eventually gets it right and bakes some polvorones the whole family can enjoy. The family relationships can be understood via illustrations and translations (abuela, hermano, hermana). Words such as fabuloso are cognates with similar meaning and therefore easy to understand. The cookies Bella bakes, polvorones with dulce de leche have no adequate English version, and cannot (nor should they) be translated. In addition, their meaning is understood from the illustrations. The one possible exception was the word jirafa. Without an illustration, it could have meant anything, and it is spelled differently enough from giraffe to confuse non-English speakers. In general the non-Spanish speaker can easily understand this charming book and its important theme: keep trying..