Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Picture Book Review - 'Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Christmas is a week away, can you believe it?? I'm in total shock. It feels like the past few weeks have just flown by, with a flurry of shopping, decorating and readying for all the events we've had going on. Last night was the Nativity play at Sprout's school, an absolutely terrific event that was full of just what you'd expect - a bit of confusion, some dropped lines, but lots of shining faces and kids singing enthusiastically with joy in their hearts. Such a special moment for us and for Sprout.

Tonight's pick is for all those who celebrate Christmas and want to add a bit of diversity into the mix. Roseanne Greenfield Thong is fast becoming one of my go-to authors for high-quality multicultural titles (in fact, I have two titles of her titles sitting on my desk at the moment!). And her new book 'Twas Nochebuena is just spectacular - a winner for Spanish-speakers as well as those who are still learning the language.

The story in 'Twas Nochebuena mirrors Clement C. Moore's poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, but puts an entirely fresh storyline in place. Gone are the nightcaps and that bowl full of jelly, to be replaced by farols and tamales. The heroine relates her family's Christmas tradition, making food together, decorating, visiting house to house, attending mass. The night culminates with fireworks, a midnight feast and lots of gifts. It's a joyous, exuberant celebration that readers will want to jump right into!

The festivities are captured by Thong's skillful rhymes, which integrate Spanish phrases into the text, allowing readers to discern meaning from context. That's a strategy I much prefer to the repetition that some books employ - I think this method makes books more accessible to all audiences. Sara Palacios did the illustrations for 'Twas Nochebuena and I *love* them. The tone is absolutely on-point: festive, fun, full of life and spirit, just like the holidays should be. Love the colors, the touches of collage, and the inclusion of multiracial families as well.

Add 'Twas Nochebuena to your holiday bookshelf and think about reading it as part of your Christmas Eve celebrations. Fair warning, though - you'll want to have champurrado (hot chocolate) close at hand!

'Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, published by Viking
Ages 4-6
Source: Library


Rebecca Jones said...

I'm so excited to add this one to my library!

Kelly A. Serrano said...

Thank you for sharing this book. I am always looking for good bilingual or Spanish books and this one looks GREAT.