I don’t know about you all, but my husband and I always get really excited when we find children’s music that doesn’t quite sound like, well, children’s music… Anyone else feel the same way? Some of our old favorites have been Elizabeth Mitchell and Hullabaloo, and I was thrilled when Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer) sent me two of his cds along with his new bilingual book, Señorita Mariposa, this summer. Read on for a little bit about both his music and his book!
Okay, let’s start with Mister G’s music. The first time we listened his album “Fireflies,” I turned to my husband and said, “I love this kids’ music! He reminds me of Jack Johnson for kids!” His music is soothing and pretty, terrific music to have in the background during some down time after school (I’d certainly play it every day if my audiobook-obsessed children would allow me to play music instead of stories…). He also sent us his “Los Animales” album. Some of you may know that our younger daughter is currently trying really, really hard to learn and speak some Spanish. She’s quite likely to greet you saying, “iHola! ¿Cómo estás?” these days, though that’s about as far as she’s gotten. I’m thrilled to have some songs sung in Spanish for her to sing down the road! (Side note — Mister G is a Latin Grammy Award winner… we’re excited to have two of his cds!).
Which leads perfectly to Gundersheimer’s book, Señorita Mariposa. Written in rhyming text featuring both English and Spanish, this is the story of the migration journey of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico. When reading this book, you can see Gundersheimer’s musical talents peeking through, as his writing takes you on a very lyrical journey (the book is actually based off of a song from his “Chocolalala” album!). Mexican illustrator Marcos Almada Rivero’s illustrations are colorful and happy, engaging even the youngest of audiences in this story. The cast of characters is nicely diverse, and the people and animals (even the butterflies) are featured with wide, inviting eyes. Be sure to check out the under-dust-jacket surprise and his illustration of the monarchs all gathered together at the end of their journey!
Children immersed in bilingual education, teacher and parents helping students learn Spanish, kids interested in butterflies’ migrations, anyone wanting to foster cross-cultural connections and understanding, and more will love this colorful, engaging, and educational book!
Most pages have the English story written on the top lines, with the Spanish translation immediately underneath, but when reading through this with my girls, we noticed that the Spanish comes first on a few pages. When I asked Gundersheimer about this, he said he intentionally switched so that readers would see both languages featured. Intentionality like this when writing books that help our children understand the large world they live in goes such a long way to creating lasting impact among young readers and breaking down barriers!
Gundersheimer also includes an Author’s Note with information about the millions of monarchs that travel up to 3000 miles seasonally. He also teaches readers about ways that the monarchs’ journey benefits others (like all the plants they pollinate along the way!). And he closes with a challenge to us all to work to protect not only monarchs, but our greater planet.
Since we’re apparently on a journey to learn Spanish in our house… What other bilingual books should we read? Some of our favorites include Papá and Me (you can read my full review here), Waiting for the Bibioburro, and Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré (you can read my full review here).
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