Book Review: Arriba y abajo by Angeles Jimenez Soria and Pablo Prestifilippo

Review by Brooks Lindner, Spanish teacher and co-author of the Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum

Arriba y abajo comes to us from Everest Editorial based in León, España. The Spanish in this book is rich and authentic with phrases such as, “Aquí arriba toco la corteza de los árboles y sus ramas que se inclinan con el viento.” The most remarkable thing though about Arriba y abajo are the colorful, captivating illustrations. In the book a father and son compare and contrast the different worlds of their senses “up here” and “down here.” The illustrations are done in pastels with broad brushstrokes, and they are all close-ups of the different worlds of “up here” and “down here.” Children love these illustrations and are instantly drawn into the story by them. The illustrations also do a wonderful job of conveying the meaning of the Spanish text. It is books like this that we look for to include in our Sonrisas Spanish School curriculum. The combination of a fun story, engaging illustrations, and authentic text makes a book like Arriba y abajo a very effective tool for teaching Spanish to children.

We use this book to teach the opposites arriba y abajo in Lesson 19 of Sonrisas Level I, and it is part of our Level I Storybook Set. The repeated phrases of “aquí arriba” and “aquí abajo” make it an easy choice for this theme. But Arriba y abajo lends itself to many other themes. It is an excellent book for teaching the five senses which are covered as the father and son ask each other:

Veo, veo. ¿Qué ves?

Huelo, huelo. ¿Qué hueles?

Gusto, gusto. ¿Qué gustas?

Oigo, oigo. ¿Qué oyes?

Toco, toco. ¿Qué tocas?

As mentioned, the book is also full of colors, and it would do well accompanying a lesson on colors with text that mentions “un cielo azul, hierba verde, hormigas negras, y las flores rojas.” You could also introduce the theme of flavors with phrases such as, “la piel ácida de las manzanas” and “las fresas dulces.”

I love this book and would recommend it to any Spanish teacher as a valuable part of her Spanish library. Arriba y abajo ends with the universal message of filial love as the father and son say, “Si me agacho en el suelo veré tu mundo,” and “Si me levantas en brazos veré el tuyo.” Arriba y abajo is also available for sale individually in the Sonrisas Bookstore.

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