Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

This is the most lovely book about comparisons, relativity, and opposites. Sweet little Marta is an ordinary girl, "una nina". But to a bug, she is "grande", very big. To a horse she is slow, to a lion she is quiet. The peaceful progression of comparisons continues until Marta encounters a snake. Will she be tasty or can she get herself out of trouble? The story ends with a spread detailing all the ways Marta is like animals - loud like el leon, slow like la tortuga. Most of all, she is "clever, very clever, like una nina." A simple glossary in the back lists all the things that Marta is and their English translations and all the animals Marta meets.

Dominguez' sweet illustrations show colorful animals and foliage against a white background. Each creature, as well as Marta, has a soft, colored outline that makes them pop off the page. Marta is a cheerful, active little girl with a rounded face and plump little hairbuns and sandy brown skin.

The genius of this story is that it blends both the concept and the Spanish language into the tale so children who don't speak Spanish can easily pick up the sense of the words while Spanish-speakers can follow the story and pick up the English. On top of that, it's a great story to teach young children about how things change in comparison - Marta might seem fast to one animal and slow to another, even though she is the same. In the end, there is a celebration of imagination as she mimics each of the animals.

Verdict: A delightful choice for toddler or preschool storytime, this would also make a good beginning reader for kids, especially those who want to be introduced to Spanish and/or English.

ISBN: 9781626722439; Published 2016 by Roaring Brook Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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