Friday, January 11, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Moon is La Luna

This book sadly arrived too late for me to consider it for the Cybils shortlist, so I wanted to give it a little love.

Guest review by Ben: "This book is funny."

The Moon is La Luna by Jay M. Harris. Illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Houghton Mifflin, 2007 (978-0-618-64645-6) $15.00

I always appreciate the cleverness of books that integrate Spanish words into an English text, but the short verses in this book go one or two step beyond the usual, working pronunciation and jokes based on it into the mix as well. Here's one of my favorites:

In Espanol, papá means "dad."
("paPA" is how it is said.)
But papa (said "POP-a") doesn't mean "dad,"
It means "potato" instead.
So watch how you say it,
Unless you would like
a Potato to tuck you in bed.

That one almost illustrates itself--but to make it even funnier, it comes right after a verse joking about how una cama (a bed) is pronounced like the English word "comma"; in the corner of the illustration for that page, which shows a boy in bed, we see a potato striding into the room, ready to tuck in the startled boy on the next page.

Aside from an occasional scansion glitch, this is a natural for reading aloud, but the short verses, familiar words, silly jokes and clean, light design make it approachable for beginning readers as well. (It's a shame the cover makes it look so much like a book for toddlers; I hope that won't put older readers off.) Overall, this is a happy marriage of information and humor. A Spanish sounds pronunciation guide and a glossary are included. (4-8)

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