Tuesday, June 26, 2012

THE WOMAN WHO OUTSHONE THE SUN by Alejandro Cruz Martinez

Martinez, Alejandro Cruz. The Woman Who Outshone the Sun/ La mujer que brillaba aún más que el sol. Hong Kong: Children's Book Press, 1991. ISBN 0-89239-126-x. $7.95.

Read another review of this book here.

Written as a poem, this picture book tells the legend of the Zapotecs, an indigenous group from Oaxaca, Mexico. Both English and Spanish languages are used with an appropriate translation; the text is presented in English, with Spanish below it as a separate passage. The book was written in English and the Spanish translations were added by Rosalma Zubizarreta, a well known-translator for Children's Book Press and a bilingual teacher in San Francisco.

The translation matches the original tone, story and culture of the book. I took tone into consideration when calling this book's translation "appropriate." For example in the first few sentences, Lucia is portrayed as a beautiful woman by the expression of “thousands of dancing butterflies and brightly colored flowers.” In Spanish, “miles de mariposas y una infinidad de flores” is the equivalent that carries the same meaning. Both English and Spanish have equal weight. They take up the same amount of space, size, and approximately the same number of sentences. The format is clear for both, allowing the text to be visible and legible. The book contains standard vocabulary for both languages. A glossary is not included, but there is an end note at the back of the book to clarify key vocabulary from Oaxaca.

All of the illustrations are paintings by Fernando Olivera, one of the author's good friends. Each illustration is consistent with what the passage says. It supports linguistic and skill transfer by bringing the words to life, helping the reader create an image of what Martinez talks about.

Ingrid Medrano

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.

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