Category Archives: Book Reviews

Multicultural Gift Ideas

The holidays are right around the corner. For many of us, the most difficult part of this busy time of year is figuring out the perfect gift for friends and loved ones. For those of you looking for bilingual and multicultural products, we have put together a list of some customer favorites that make perfect holiday gifts for young language learners, multicultural children, or a special teacher.

Board Books

These heavy-duty bilingual books are perfect for babies and toddlers, giving parents the chance to encourage bilingualism at an early age. Here is a list of some board books that babies and parents are sure to enjoy:

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Goose Fables (The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg)

Goose Fables (The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg)

This book comprises two fables: Aesop’s The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, and the Buddhist tale The Tortoise and the Geese.

In The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, a foolish hunter captures a goose. When the creature lays a curious-looking egg, he doesn’t know what to do! He brings the egg to a friend in town who recognizes that it is, in fact, a golden egg. The hunter is able to sell the eggs, and begins to lead a life of luxury. Sadly, “like many people, the huntsman wasn’t happy with what he had” and he decides to cut open the goose to get all the eggs at once. His greed is his downfall.

In the second fable The Tortoise and the Geese, tortoise just won’t stop talking. Eventually the other animals can’t stand it and leave him to talk to himself. One autumn, two geese come to his pond and befriend him. When it is time for them to fly home, tortoise begs to accompany them. He has devised a way for them to carry him. The geese have to hold a piece of wood and tortoise must hang onto it with his mouth. The only catch is: he can’t talk! Needless to say, he cannot resist and falls from the sky, only to land on a leafy bush and almost on hare. Tortoise apologizes to hare and admits that sometimes he talks without thinking – tortoise has learned his lesson.  Continue reading Goose Fables (The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg)

Multicultural and Language-Learning Gifts: Our Top Tips for Holiday Gift-Giving

Twinkling lights, fires in the fireplace, and the smell of fresh pine needles – the holidays are upon us! For many, the most difficult part of this time of year is figuring out the perfect gift for friends and loved ones.

For those of you looking for bilingual and multicultural products, we have put together a list of some favorites which would make perfect holiday gifts for young language learners, multicultural children and a special teacher. Let us know if you can’t find what you are looking for. We are more than happy to help.

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Bilingual Book Review: Marek and Alice’s Christmas

Marek and Alice’s Christmas
Written by Jolanta Starek-Corile
Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
Paperback
Ages 3-8
Review by Maureen Pugh

This brightly illustrated book is part of our celebration series, which explores the way people celebrate different festivals around the world. In the story, Marek, his sister Alice, and their parents are visiting their extended family including their babcia (grandmother), dziadek (grandfather) and prababcia (great-grandmother) in Poland. All are involved in preparing for the big Christmas celebration and Marek is full of questions. Why does prababcia put hay under the table? Why does she set an extra place at the table? Why do they look for the first star of the night before they begin their feast? Continue reading Bilingual Book Review: Marek and Alice’s Christmas

Bilingual Book Review: The “Our Lives, Our World” Series

In continuation of our celebration of The Bilingual Child Month, we’d like to share with you a review of three bilingual books that explore and celebrate global diversity. Read these books with your students to help them appreciate children just like them from around the world.

Goal! Let’s Play! – written by Joe Marriott and illustrated by Algy Craig Hall
Yum! Let’s Eat! – written by Thando Maclaren and illustrated by Jacqueline East
Brrmm! Let’s Go! – written by Julie Kingdon and illustrated by Leo Broadley
Paperback Ages 2-6
Review by Maureen Pugh

These three books comprise the “Our Lives, Our World” series, which explores the rich diversity of children’s lives and develops a worldwide perspective. Although the books are written and illustrated by different people, the series does have a cohesive style.

Each book introduces eleven children from eleven different countries, and every child is given a two page spread that introduces the child, and illustrates what the child is describing. The children are introduced with “my name’s Charlie …” or “I’m Abeba…”, so the text repeats the introductory phrases that we all want our children to be familiar with.

The text goes on with simple sentences, which contain mostly commonly-used vocabulary (and some new vocabulary), such as “I’m Khaled. We eat couscous and lamb tagine when we visit Grandpa.” Another example is “My name’s James, I play tennis with my family every weekend.”

Not surprisingly, Brrmm! Let’s Go! focuses on vehicles (bicycle, helicopter, tuk-tuk) and action verbs (to ride, to fly), while Goal! Let’s Play! introduces popular sports played in the country (ie, India – cricket, and Switzerland – skiing). Yum! Let’s Eat! depicts favorite foods from around the world.

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Bilingual Book Review: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Illustrated by Annie Kubler
Hardcover
Ages 0-3
Review by Maureen Pugh

This sturdy, oversized (it runs a little over 8 inches square) board book brings the classic song to life with a couple of giggle-producing twists – at least they made my 5-year old giggle!

The text runs through the classic poem three times, changing the ending the second and third times through. Toddlers will love the last verse, which has the reader row the boat to the “shore,” and then ends with ”if you see a lion, don’t forget to roar!”

Although this book is targeted to the under-three crowd, personally I have found that dual language board books have served me well beyond the toddler years. The repetition helps reinforce the language skills I am trying to teach, and sometimes it is nice to have a shorter book to read.

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Bilingual Book Review: Lion Fables

Lion Fables
Written and illustrated by Jan Ormerod
Paperback
Ages 4-9
Review by Maureen Pugh

This book contains both the Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse, as well as the Malaysian fable The Hare’s Revenge. The stories are retold and illustrated by award-willing author and illustrator Jan Ormerod. The Lion and the Mouse tells the familiar tale of a little mouse, who captured by the self-acclaimed “King of the Beasts,” bargains for his life with an offer of friendship and aid should the lion ever have need of him. Amused by the offer, the lion lets the mouse go, never thinking he actually will need the aid of such a small creature. Yet in only a matter of days, the lion is captured in a hunter’s net. The mouse sets the lion free by nibbling the rope in two, and the lion is humbled and grateful. Continue reading Bilingual Book Review: Lion Fables

Bilingual Book Review: Deepak’s Diwali

Deepak’s Diwali
Written by Divya Karwal
Illustrated by Doreen Lang
Paperback
Ages 3-8
Review by Maureen Pugh

Diwali, also called Deepavali or Divali, is a festival that is significant in Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is known as the “Festival of Lights,” and celebrates the victory of good over evil.

In Deepak’s Diwali, it is the eve of Diwali, and Deepak’s grandmother tells him the story of the demon king Ravana who steals the god Rama’s wife, Sita. Deepak spends the first half of the story worried that Ravana is following him, but soon gets into the spirit of the holiday.

This contemporary story explains how the festival is celebrated with sparklers and lights, prayer, and feasting. It mentions the beautiful Rangoli Patterns, which Deepak and his mother create on their doorstep to welcome their visitors, and describes all kinds of delicious foods and treats. The story portrays this holiday as a wonderful family celebration. Continue reading Bilingual Book Review: Deepak’s Diwali

Bilingual Book Review: Not Again, Red Riding Hood!

Not Again, Red Riding Hood!
Written by Kate Clynes
Illustrated by Louise Daykin
Ages 3-8
Review by Maureen Pugh

Not Again, Red Riding Hood! is a whimsical and entertaining book. The tale begins after Red Riding Hood’s “terrible ordeal with the wolf” and follows her on a new adventure.

When her mother asks her to bring some cookies to her father, who is working in the woods, Red Riding Hood agrees to go, despite her nervousness. As she makes her way to her father, she encounters various storybook characters (Rapunzel, Goldilocks’ three bears, and the 3 Billy Goats Gruff) and shares some of her cookies with each of them. Continue reading Bilingual Book Review: Not Again, Red Riding Hood!

Bilingual Book Review: Keeping Up with Cheetah

Keeping Up with Cheetah
Written by Lindsay Camp
Illustrated by Jill Newton
Ages 2-7
Format: Paperback
Review by Maureen Pugh

Cheetah loves telling jokes and Hippopotamus loves to listen and laugh at Cheetah’s jokes – even when they aren’t very funny! This synergy makes them the best of friends. There is only one problem: Hippopotamus can’t run very fast, so he can’t keep up with Cheetah.

Cheetah goes in search of a better friend, one who will appreciate his jokes and be able to run with him. Hippopotamus is so sad, and tries to practice running, but eventually realizes he will never be able to keep up with Cheetah. He decides to do what he loves best, and goes for a “good, long, deep, muddy, wallow.” Continue reading Bilingual Book Review: Keeping Up with Cheetah