Book Review: Un recorrido por las estaciones

Authors: Stella Blackstone and Maria Carluccio

Review by Blue Lindner

Thank heavens Barefoot Publishing decided to keep this indispensable book in print. Very few children’s books run through every month of the year with such engaging, jam-packed illustrations.

I use this book with all of my elementary Spanish students (currently ranging 6-13), and it can certainly be used with preschool Spanish students as well. It is an excellent resource to accompany the calendar activities in the Sonrisas Spanish School Level I and Level II curricula. It is specifically recommended for Sonrisas Level II, Lesson 26.

Starting with January, each page brings a playful illustration of people and animals of all sizes and colors enjoying what the season has to offer. The text is simple: a repeating phrase that changes only the action verb and the name of the month, and then a sentence to describe the illustrated scene. I don’t read the book all at once. I bring it out for my students on the first class of each month, turning only to the page that illustrates the coming month.

A little game is also built into the text layout of the book. The text on each page ends with the phrase ¿Qué ves?, and at the bottom of the page are several nouns that can be found in the picture. I ask my students to try and find each noun: ¿Ves la casita de pájaros? If it’s an unfamiliar word I repeat it, and then mime it or act it out for them.

Another very useful language chunk that repeats on each page is ¡Ven conmigo! This phrase can be applied in many different settings and contexts, so it warrants a little mini lesson, and then a simple “come with me” hand gesture each time the phrase is spoken.

Living in Colorado, we have seasons that more or less correspond to the illustrations. However, while in the book March is brown and April is rainy spring, in Colorado we always have snow in March and April, so it provides an opportunity to talk about how seasons are different in different parts of the world. When I taught in Texas my students were mesmerized by even the idea of snowballs and snowmen. Even though they couldn’t relate to winter on a personal level, we always took time to learn winter phrases and vocabulary. This is also a fun book to utilize for Lesson 8 of the Sonrisas Cultural Curriculum, Las Pampas en Argentina. In Argentina, the seasons are exactly opposite to what the United States is experiencing, so it can be fun for students in February to look at the picture of August and imagine the people of Argentina swimming at the beach.

This book is also fabulous for parents to read to their bilingual children. It’s fun for all ages, and young children will pour over the illustrations. It is available in the Sonrisas Bookstore. If you are a bilingual parent, a preschool or elementary Spanish teacher, or both, Un recorrido por las estaciones is a great investment for your Spanish library.

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