Tuesday, July 3, 2012
A MOVIE IN MY PILLOW by Jorge Argueta
2001 Americas Award for Latin American Literature
Skipping Stones Honor Award for Multicultural Literature
IPPY Award for Multicultural Fiction for Juveniles
A Movie in My Pillow is a picture book of children’s bilingual poetry. It describes the author’s memories of when he left El Salvador as a young boy with his father during its civil war and moved to San Francisco’s Mission District. Jorgito’s movie, or collection of dreams, is recalled in emotional poems about the people and places he left behind, as well the adventures he has discovered in his new city.
The languages included in this book are Spanish and English. It is a translation from Spanish into English. All of the poems are in both English and Spanish and are displayed either side by side or above and below each other on each page. English/Spanish biliterate readers will be able to tell that the book is very well translated and has accurate usage of words. It was translated by the author himself, which means he has the language, regional, and cultural background from his native El Salvador.
The text of each language seems to be equally present on every page and of equal importance in the telling of the story. The font style seems almost childlike and friendly as well as clear. Every word, line, and paragraph is visible among the various illustrations, and they are easy to read on the pages because they are spaced apart and positioned well.
While there is no slang or jargon in this book, but there is some non-standard vocabulary that language learners might not know or recognize. There is no formal glossary within the book, but there are small notes next to and beneath the poems to explain potentially unfamiliar words to readers.
The vibrant paintings on every page really help bring the author’s story to life with bold bright colors covering every inch of the book. Because the drawings are so detailed, they may help readers boost their comprehension of abstract concepts and better explain what it is like to live in two different countries. I did not find any obvious elements of rhyme or rhythm used in the poems, but the author does use repetition, which supports language acquisition.
The writing style of the author is very imaginative and full of emotion. His heartfelt confessions about the things he misses from El Salvador and the joyful confusion he feels in San Francisco will make any reader empathize with being homesick.
The artwork is vivid and makes you feel as though you’re watching Jorgito’s movie with him. Geography, world cuisines, and indigenous languages are just a few of the social studies themes that are present in this wonderful children’s book.
I would use this bilingual book to support language acquisition by reading it first in one language (the child’s primary language), and then in the second language. This gives the student the opportunity to hear both versions and transfer their skills in the second language. Having the dual language text side by side also helps them access the translations more easily.
Some other books by Jorge Argueta include Sopa de Frijoles, Alfredito Flies Home, Moony Luna, La Gallinita En La Cuidad, The Fiesta of the Tortillas, Talking with Mother Earth, Trees Are Hanging from the Sky, Zipitio, and Xochitl and the Flowers. I would without a doubt recommend this book. It would be a great resource to include in a bilingual library collection or for dual language learners. It would especially be of interest to immigrant students or young readers from El Salvador.
Reviewed by Caroline Rubio Jacobs
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.