Elya, Susan Middleton. 2008. Bebe Goes Shopping. Ill by Steven Salerno. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 9780152061425.
Plot Summary -
In this story, Mama negotiates the challenges of taking Bebe to the grocery store. Being a very young child, he is extremely curious about his surroundings, and the exploration of his curiosities makes challenges for Mama. Her shopping is continually interrupted by rescuing Bebe from his explorations, so she decides to give him a treat to eat to keep him busy. It is a day of wonder and excitement for Mama and Bebe.
Critical Analysis -
This active and engaging story is one to which both adult and child can relate. All mothers and children have experienced the busyness and wonder that a trip to the grocery store can hold. Inventive rhyme schemes are created using English to English words, Spanish to Spanish words and Spanish to English words. An example of Spanish to English words rhyming is "Por favor" rhyming with "floor". This makes for intriguing word play. This is an excellent book to share with children especially those who maybe learning English or to expose non-Spanish speakers to the Spanish language. All of the Spanish words are in bold print which focuses the reader's attention onto them. The glossary is a wonderful support for non-Spanish speakers to help with the meaning and correct pronunciation of the Spanish words.
The illustrations are drawn by Steven Salerno using gouache, watercolors, colored inks and colored pencils on French Arches 260 lb hot pressed watercolor paper. The drawings are larger than life and filled with bright colors. The people are drawn in very interesting ways. The head are proportionally larger than the bodies and oblong in shape which make them resemble no particular group. While the book uses Spanish words, the characters do not look particularly Spanish with the possible exception of the Senora who has some stereotypical features. The characters are brown in skin tone but culturally indistinct in features. Mama for example has crown shaped lips and a wide nose that could suggest African heritage. She also has almond shaped eyes that could suggest Asian heritage. While the book focuses on Spanish culture, the characters could fit into other cultural stories. That helps bring children from different cultures into the story.
Review Excerpts -
Publishers Weekly (Starred review) - "This delightful tale turns an everyday chore into a lively adventure, brimming with entertainment and enjoyment for all."
Booklist (Starred review) - "Introducing a young child to Spanish has never been as attractive as in this shopping romp...Fantastico!"
School Library Journal - "Warm and engaging."
Kirkus Review - "Will leave readers smiling."
Parenting Magazine - best book of the year
*Other books reinforcing Spanish:
- Weeks, Sarah. Counting Ovejas. ISBN 0689867506.
- Elya, Susan Middleton. Bebe Goes to the Beach. Ill. Steven Salerno. ISBN 0152060006.
- "Los Politos" = "Little Chickens"
- Other examples can be found at www.mamalisa.com which include songs, MP3s, MIDI, and videos.