¡Cataplum!, a story about a hungry, lonely wolf and the bunnies who fear him, was originally written in French in 1994 and translated into Spanish by Anna Coll-Vinent. The word choice in Spanish that she uses to translate I believe is a bit difficult to understand, but it is an accurate one. These are not your everyday Spanish words that we are used to hearing. This book is meant for kindergarten, so in order for students to understand some of the Spanish words there will have to be some vocabulary review. The illustrations in the book are good quality. They are not realistic at all, but for those students that are still acquiring language and learning to understand it, the illustrations do a good job of telling the story. They are very explicit in showing what the text is telling.
¡Cataplum! is told in present tense and takes place in the forest. The characters in the book include the wolf, who is portrayed as the bad guy, and the colony of bunnies. The wolf is automatically portrayed as mean because he is hungry, but in reality he would like to be nice. He has no friends, though, because the bunnies are afraid of him and always hide from him. On his birthday, he wonders if anyone will remember. He goes to the bunnies tunnel to find food and learns that the bunnies are all gone. As the wolf searches the tunnel for food, the story goes back and forth in describing what a bad wolf he is to how he is nice and would like someone to play with. He keeps searching the tunnel until he slips and falls down the stairs, hence the title Cataplum! And there he finds that all the bunnies have gathered to sing him happy birthday. He is caught by surprise because he never thought they would do something like that for him.
This story could be used in correlation with a kinder social studies lesson that focuses on being a good citizen. It has a good storyline, and students will easily grasp the concept of how a good citizen should act, and they will also learn that a character’s behavior in a story has consequences.
I recommend using this book to teach about good citizens of the community or just as a fun read. As I stated before, this book has a story line that is easy for students to understand and follow.
Reviewed by Annette Gutierrez
This review is part of the Special Section: Books in Spanish, featuring a collaboration with Policy and Language Studies students at San Diego State University. Read more about it here.