Saturday, November 29, 2014

30 Days of Diverse Picture Books - Maria Had a Little Llama by Angela Dominguez

It's Day 28 of our 30 Days of Diverse Picture Books. Sprout is fortunate that his school starts teaching Spanish in kindergarten. He absolutely adores it! They have class every Monday and I'll tell you, that kid bounces out of bed Monday mornings so thrilled for school and his Spanish class. As a result we've been seeking out bilingual books whenever possible, to give us more exposure and learning opportunities.

And tonight's pick, Maria Had a Little Llama by Angela Dominguez, is one of our favorites! I first heard about this title when it won the Pura Belpré Illustration Honor last year, but it had fallen off my radar for a bit. Then Sprout grabbed it off the shelf at a recent visit to the library and we were both hooked - the illustrations are just so darn cute that you can't help but smile from the cover right on through to the last page!

As you might expect, Maria Had a Little Llama is a spin on the familiar nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb", but freshened up and set in Peru, and with a Spanish text added. Maria's llama loves her so much that he follows her to school, where trouble ensues (naturally) and the llama has to be sent out. But no matter, the two friends are soon reunited and the tale ends on a happy note. The story is simple enough to share with littles, but there are lots of points to talk over with older kids as well -- this would be a great springboard into reading about Peruvian culture, for example.

Maria Had a Little Llama is a terrific example of how to refresh a classic story: add a new location, throw in some cultural details and a second language to make the title accessible to a wider range of readers. Add to that the super adorable pictures, and you've got a title that wins on every level!

Maria Had a Little Llama by Angela Dominguez, published by Henry Holt

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