Review first posted at: http://nathaliemvondo.wordpress.com
A blog on multiculturalism on children’s literature
Posted by Nathalie Mvondo on February 3, 2011
*grin* No, I’m not writing this post in three different languages. Pour la version française express, lire la fin du poste. Trans: scoop to the end of the post for an express French version of the review.
I want to live on an island, with a bright blue sky and coconut trees dancing as waves whisper in rhythm tales of lost travelers washing ashore: Sea Turtles. There is something about reading Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle, especially in winter. The story takes a hold of your heart and doesn’t let go until you turn the last page. The illustrations pull you in before you’ve had a chance to gasp: They appear simple enough so that a young child can fully appreciate them yet they are, in my humble opinion, beautifully done; the blend and joy conveyed by the colors add to the warmth and sometimes tension of the story; And Marie, I love the fact that virtually any brown little girl can recognize herself in her. I looked closely the first time she appeared on the page and wondered:
“What is she? African-American? Hispanic? Bi-racial?…”
Answer: It doesn’t really matter.
Marie, as you might have guessed, lives on an island and one of her favorite activities is to collect seashells. She one day comes across a huuuuuuge turtle in distress. How did the turtle end up there? Will her new friend make it? Or end up in a… stew? I feared for the turtle’s life as I read along.
Though its structure is somewhat unconventional for a picture book, there are a variety of elements I like about Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle. Primo, come on. The book is written in three languages: English, French and Spanish! That in itself is a treat for a picture book. You get to entertain children with a meaningful story, but you also broaden their world by exposing them to new languages. My Spanish is terrible, but I caught myself drawn to and reading in Spanish regardless. Deuxio: You (kid or adult reader) get a glimpse at a harsh reality for the non-native, through learning a fact or two about islanders’ taste in food as well as the reason(s) behind the turtle’s predicament. Last but not least, the story is… I want to say cute but, really has a deeper meaning than one might think at first.
And to be honest, I was also moved by the narrative’s and illustrations’ cheerfulness in light of the earthquake that shook Haiti last year and claimed so many lives. The context matters.
Mary and her friend the Sea Turtle is polyglot author and teacher Nicole Weaver‘s first book. It is illustrated by Ruben Chavez, a personal friend of the author, and was published in March 2009 under the umbrella of Outskirts Press, a company based in Denver, Colorado. The book is available on Amazon, including in a Kindle format for $4.99. In addition, Nicole maintains a wonderful website, where you can print games or fun exercises that help you learn French, seasoned with food related topics (her Christmas) served with mouthwatering pictures. Nicole’s next book will be released this year, by Guardian Angel Publishing.
I highly recommend Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle. Pick it up and you will not regret it. Did I mention that a large portion of the book’s proceeds go to the Lambi Fund of Haiti for relief efforts?
For more information, visit http://marieandherfriendtheseaturtle.blogspot.com.
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of the book from the author. Happy reading!
Pour nos lecteurs francophones:
Okay, les amis! P’tit résumé rapide: Marie et son Amie la Tortue de Mer est un livre délicieux et chaleureux écrit par Nicole Weaver, une maîtresse et autoresse haïtienne qui parle couramment le créole, le français (ben bien sûr!), l’anglais et l’espagnol. Nicole enseigne des classes bilingues, en français et espagnol, et elle vit aux états-unis avec sa famille.
Marie et son Amie la Tortue de Mer est l’histoire d’une petite fille qui se retrouve nez à nez avec… un quadrupède marin en détresse. Son amie va-t-elle s’en sortir, ou finir dans un pot de soupe? Mystère. Ouvrez le livre pour en decouvrir le dénouement.
L’ouvrage est illustré par Ruben Chavez, un ami proche de Nicole, et est disponible sur Amazon en version papier et Kindle, pour $4.99. Une grande partie des profits est donnée à Lambi Fund, pour aider les victimes du tremblement de terre qui a secoué l’île l’année dernière. Je recommande chaleureusement ce livre qui, bien qu’unique par sa structure, a beaucoup de coeur.
Voili voilou. Passez une très bonne journée. *smile*