Wednesday, July 4, 2012

FAMILY, FAMILIA by Diane Gonzales Bertrand

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales. Family, Familia. Illustrated by Pauline Rodriguez Howard. Translated by Julia Mercedes Castilla. Houston: Piñata Books, 1999. ISBN #1-55885-269-7. $14.95. Ages 6 and up.

Family, Familia is a bilingual picture book. Daniel Gonzales, the main character in the story, goes to a family reunion in San Antonio, Texas. He expects the reunion to be boring and is not excited to attend. However, he begins to enjoy the reunion and has fun when he starts to make connections between his family and the stories his dad has told him. Daniel finds a boy who is his age and they become friends and find out they are cousins. Daniel goes back home happily, knowing where the Gonzales name comes from.

This story has a very strong message about family unity that children will really love. It promotes multiculturalism in a positive way. Children of Mexican-American backgrounds will be able to easily relate to this story, while children of different backgrounds will get a look into a new culture. The use of descriptive language gives the story a very vivid feel. The illustrations are also very bright and detailed. They support the story’s meaning fully and tell a story even on their own. The use of Spanish that is sprinkled on every page gives the story a more authentic touch. There is no translation for these words, however, which may make it difficult for a non-Spanish speaker to decode. Nevertheless, the book is translated completely from English to Spanish. The translation conveys the story’s meaning perfectly. As Daniel discovers the meaning of family, children will also be compelled to think about where they came from and their own family’s history regardless of their cultural background.

Reviewed by Vicky Zamarripa

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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