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Book Review: Margarita y Margaret by Lynn Reiser

Review by Brooks Lindner

Margarita y Margaret by Lynn Reiser has long been my go-to book for the beginning of the school year. It tells the story of two young girls whose mothers take them to the park even though they do not want to go because they each are worried that there will be no one to play with. In the park they meet and quickly realize that one of them speaks only English and the other only Spanish. After timidly introducing themselves, they begin to play together, learn some of each other’s language, and then become good friends.

The simple watercolor illustrations in the book do a great job of conveying the meaning of the Spanish text and drawing children into the experience the girls have in the story. Although the text in the book switches between English and Spanish, I think the value of the book lies in its theme of being able to meet new people and make new friends when you speak another language. I also think that the language switching actually provides a nice transition for new Spanish students and eases them into the experience of having a class all in Spanish and reading books all in Spanish. After reading the story I always ask my students, “What happened when Margaret began speaking Spanish with Margarita?” I want them to make the connection that when you speak another language you can make new friends and have new experiences, and that this is a good thing. This effectively gets the students excited about Spanish class.

Margarita y Margaret can support several different lesson themes. We use it in Lesson 1 of Sonrisas Level I to teach “Hola”, “Adiós”, and “Me llamo”. You can also use this book for a lesson on colors as the girls describe the colors of their dolls, shoes, dresses, ribbons, smiles, and eyes. The book is also effective for introducing the construction “Me gusta…”  I always like to have my students act out the part of the book where the girls meet each other for the first time and have to say hello to each other and then introduce themselves.

A great book for the beginning of the school year or for reviewing throughout the year, Margarita y Margaret is fun and engaging for your students and a useful resource for you. It is available in the Sonrisas Bookstore.

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