More Spanish books for children

Eileen Hesseling writes:

There are thousands of wonderful, excellent books in Spanish for children and that every year more and more treasures are published. The problem is not lack of good books, but rather how to learn about what is being published in other countries and where to find them here in the US. Yes, there are tedious, didactic books in Spanish, but tedious, didactic books are published in every language, even English! I don’t know how buyers for Borders or Barnes & Noble, etc. learn about what is quality literature for children that is published worldwide, but after browsing through bookstores in Madrid, Buenos Aires, and Santiago de Chile, my hunch is that they just buy whatever the US publishers deliver to them. NOT quality books. As a result, the public here thinks that that is all there is. Meanwhile the production is as rich and as varied as any in the world.

Below is a very short list of some of my favorite books followed by places to buy books and finally, sites that contain reviews of books.

Ricardo Alcántara, Cuando todos dormían; Así se hicieron amigos; Aventura en la playaj; Un viaje en tren

These four books, published by Everest, build a story based solely using nouns. Cuando todos dormían starts out like this:

“La noche y la luna (picture of night on left, a moon on the page facing it)
La luna y la ventana (picture of the moon on left, a window on the page facing)
La ventana y la habitación (picture of the window on left, the room on the other)

Éric Battut, El secreto Kókinos

Translated from French, this is a story of a mouse who hides, or tries to hide, a delicious secret from his friends hedgehog, frog, rabbit, etc. Repetitive text invites participation in which the reader becomes an accomplice and knows something the mouse doesn’t know. One or two sentences on the left hand page with minimal illustrations on a white background on the right.  The story begins like this:

“¡Oh!,¡Qué hermosa manzana!
Éste será mí secreto.
Voy a esconderla…”

Andrés Guerrero Sánchez,  Cinco ovejitas

Sometimes it’s hard to get to sleep and for a little wolf, counting sheep doesn’t always work, especially since he can only count to five… Small picture book.  The story begins like this:

“–¡Mamáaa…! ¡No puedo dormir! –se quejaba el lobo chico.
–Cuenta ovejas, verás como te duermes –contestó mamá loba.

El lobo chico se quedó pensando…
–Sólo sé contar hasta cinco –dijo.

Y empezó a contar… Una… Dos… Tres… Cuatro… Cinco…

Pero claro… no se durmió. Cinco ovejas son muy pocas para dormirse.

Y empezó de nuevo… Una… Dos… Tres… Cuatro… Cinco…”

Isol Tener, Un patito es útil

A little boy tells how he found a little duck and uses it as a rocking chair, as a hat, as a pipe and a whistle, etc. At the end of the book, you turn the page and the little duck tells how he met a little boy who picked him up: the boy gives him back massages, the duck uses the boy as a look out tower, the boy gives him kisses…a telling contrast of point of view. An accordion book, published by FCE.  The story begins like this:

“Me encontré un patito y lo agarré.

Lo uso para mecerme.”

Ernst Jandl Antípodas, Al otro lado del mundo

The antipodes are the place on the opposite side of the Earth. The protagonist takes a trip to the other side of the world, but through rather than around it. The text of one or two short phrases on the left faces illustrations that complement the print.  Published by Lóguez.  Translated from German.

The story begins like this:

“una hoja de papel (next page)
y debajo una hoja de papel (next page)
y debajo una hoja de papel (next page)
y debajo una hoja de papel (next page)
y debajo una mesa…”

Jean Maubille,  Y el pequeñito dijo Océano

A hippopotamus, an elephant and a rhinoceros share a double page with a little white bird who is feeling a bit squished among such big company. The bird demands that each one leave. At the end, the bird is feeling bored and lonely and asks where everyone has gone. The text is repetitive. The pages have a fold-out flap.  Translated from a French original, published by Travesía.  The story begins like this:

“Estaban cuatro en el libro,
y el pequeñito dijo:
¡Me están aplastando! ¡Váyanse de aquí!”

Christian Voltz ¿Todavía nada?

Early one morning Mr. Luis digs an enormous hole and plants a seed. In the hole he plants a seed. Then he fills the hole, tamps the soil down and waits… but does he wait long enough? The illustrations are collages.  Translated from the French and published by Kalandraka.  The story begins like this:

Una mañana, muy temprano, el señor Luis cavó un hoyo enorme en la tierra.

next page:

En este hoyo enorme, el señor Luis dejó caer una semillita llena de promesas (porque a las semillas les gusta abrigarse en la tierra).

Where to buy books in Spanish

Reviews of books in Spanish for children and adolescents

Happy reading!