Thursday, July 5, 2012

MY VERY OWN ROOM by Amanda Irma Perez

Perez, Amanda I. My Very Own Room / Mi Propio Cuartito. Maya Christina Gonzalez. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press, 2000. ISBN # 0-89239-164-2

My Very Own Room / Mi Propio Cuartito is a bilingual picture book. It was originally written in English and translated into Spanish. The story is based on the author’s own experience of growing up in a family of eight. Amanda lives with her parents and her five younger brothers in a small two-bedroom house. She has to share a bedroom with her five brothers, and she really desires a little space of her own. She goes around the house to look for her so-desired space, and when she finally finds a potential place, she asks her mother for her approval. This small space is full of furniture, old clothes, and other family belongings, so a lot of work has to be done in order to turn it into a small bedroom for Amanda. The closeness of the family is evident when everyone gets together to help Amanda accomplish her dream.

The translation of the book is accurate. It is evident that the translator is familiar with Mexican culture, since the words are carefully chosen to represent the same meaning that they have in the original language of the story. Thus, the tone of the story is preserved in the translation. Additionally, there is a balance of languages in the book. Both languages are used equally throughout the story; however, some Spanish words are used in the English version of the story because the author probably couldn’t find words in English that had the same emotional meaning as they do in Spanish. Therefore, a glossary of Spanish terms would be useful for Spanish language learners. In terms of English language learners, the translation of the story can help them keep developing their English language by looking at the Spanish translation of the book whenever they don’t understand words or ideas in the English version of the story. The Spanish embedded words in the English version of the story can also make this book more comprehensible to English language learners.

The content of the story is great; however, it lacks metaphors, similes, rhythm, and alliteration, which would make it a richer piece of writing. Additionally, the names of some of the characters are not mentioned in the story, which can be confusing for language learners. The illustrations are well done; they are very vivid, and they match the text of the story.

This book is appropriate for elementary school students, second and third grade in particular, since the vocabulary used is simple. Furthermore, this book can be used to teach a variety of topics such as differences in culture and immigration. I recommend using this book in the classroom because many students will be able to identify themselves with the main character’s situation, and this will engage students in the lessons.

Reviewed by Yvonne Garcia

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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