Children’s 12/1/2017

In Book Reviews, Featured Book Review by Erin Downey Howerton

Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas Familiares para Cada Día de la Semana by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. (Lee & Low Books, $18.95, 9780892392759)


Accessible, bite-sized, and made for sharing, the dual-language poems in Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas Familiares para Cada Día de la Semana, by the late Alarcón, give young readers a window into not just their own lives, but the poetry that can be found in even ordinary days. Using language as the framework, Alarcón loosely themes the poems around the etymology of each day of the week in both English and Spanish. Charming anecdotes bring the connections home, as with a blushing child who compares their red cheeks to the day’s namesake, Mars, on Tuesday (Martes). Gonzalez’s art, inspired by Mexican traditions and motifs, adds another layer of meaning to the poetry. Wednesday’s spread features a tortoise and hare to literally illustrate “El Tiempo es Vacilón/Time is Very Tricky,” but hidden in the hare’s body is a pattern of playing children, running alongside a rolling classmate in a fast wheelchair, while the tortoise shell is studded with sedentary students stuck at their desks. The rich interplay of language and art will delight families and young readers, and teachers of Spanish as a second language may also find a use for this in their classrooms. The poems are enjoyable in English but truly shine in Spanish, with gentle slant and internal rhymes. Un libro juguetón y artístico—a playfully artistic book. [Ages 5-12]

Erin Downey Howerton