The familiar nursery rhyme underpins this peek into the landscape and culture of Peru. Dominguez’s (Let’s Go, Hugo) gouache-and-ink spreads portray a red-cheeked Maria and a llama with a curiously human face in cultivated mountain fields and a tiled-roofed village. Some spreads show novel combinations of traditional and modern life: Maria wears an Andean hat with earflaps, a heavy cape, and sandals, but her knapsack looks like that of any North American schoolchild. Each line of the rhyme appears with Spanish text below it (“Why does the llama love Maria so?”/¿Por qué la llama le quiere tanto a María?”), and even readers unfamiliar with Spanish can probably decode a few nouns and verbs. As a bonus, the pages contain lots of visual information about Peruvian village life—the local market, the school, a traditional band—but Maria’s story takes center stage. She’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have to be an English speaker to be a nursery-rhyme hero. Likely to be of special interest to bilingual families and in elementary school classrooms. Ages 3–7. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“A fresh and enjoyable reimagining of a traditional children's rhyme.” Kirkus Reviews
“A solid addition to a bilingual storytime program.” BCCB
“This is a scene young children will return to again and again.” The Horn Book
Children's Literature - Erika Clark
This story is not only an amusing story for all ages, but is also culturally responsive to various ethnic groups in the United States. Dominguez takes a traditional American nursery rhyme and illustrates it through the perspectives of María, who lives in a Peruvian-style neighborhood. Readers are introduced to the houses, clothing, animals, and Inca people of Peru. Most importantly, readers learn a popular American song in Spanish. Considering that many readers have diverse backgrounds, this story will encourage many to take interest in learning a second or foreign language and is a good way to introduce diversity into the classroom and home library. Many English Language Learners understand a text better if they can make personal connections to the story and their own culture. By selecting texts that represent various cultures, it becomes less challenging for students to draw necessary connections before reading comprehension can take place. Reviewer: Erika Clark; Ages 3 to 7.
Mary had a little lamb, and now María has a little llama in this bilingual presentation of a classic children's rhyme, set in rural Peru. Dominguez presents a straightforward version of the familiar rhyme, adding just enough new elements to transform it into a story. The text flows rhythmically in both the English and the Spanish, which are placed together on the page with the English in bold and positioned above the Spanish. The amount of text per page is brief and appropriate for a bilingual read-aloud. The landscape and imagery transport the readers to Peru, a part of the world not often seen in picture books. The warmly affectionate gouache-and-ink artwork uses bold outlines and an earthy palette. Shifting perspectives and amusing details encourage investigation before turning the page. For example, readers can explore the map of Peruvian landmarks that María visits, count the hours on the floating clocks as the llama waits for school to end, or make up their own stories about what is happening on the wordless spread of the town square as María makes her way to school. Though readers may desire a less abrupt ending, the setting choice and spirited illustrations make up for this lack of creativity in the text. A fresh and enjoyable reimagining of a traditional children's rhyme. (Bilingual picture book. 3-7)