Tuesday, April 17, 2007

review: Grandmothers Nursery Rhymes/Las Nanas de Abuelita

And a big fat smack on the side of my head for forgetting to save this for Poetry Friday...

Grandmother's Nusery Rhymes/Las Nanas de Abuelita complied by Nelly Palacio Jaramillo. Illustratrated by Elivia. Henry Holt, 1994; 1996 (978-0-8050-4644-1) $7.95 pb

Whether you want to expose your kids to a bit of South American culture, try reading a little Spanish, or just enjoy some unfamiliar nusery rhymes, this collection of rhyming riddles and lullabies has something for you. Many of the rhymes are adivinanzas, riddles for which the answer is a letter or an object; I particularly like the riddles for the five vowels, subtly illustrated to suggest the shapes of the letters. (Though the answers are also right there, removing any real mystery.) These verses are short and sweet enough for English speakers to attempt the Spanish versions, but the translations also seem to do an excellent job of keeping the rhythm and sense of the originals; even a poem which is a play on young children's classic mispronunciation of Spanish numbers is entertaining in English:

estaba la reina
sentada al bufete.


A one
is two,
a tree,
what for,
a fife
my sis,
the queen
did kiss.

Exuberant, sometimes slightly surreal watercolors of plump babies, loving parents and other happy people and animals cozily surround the text, giving the unfamiliar rhymes a comfortably familiar, nursery-rhyme feel. (2-6)

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