María tenía una llamita

Angela Dominguez. Holt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9333-9
The familiar nursery rhyme underpins this peek into the landscape and culture of Peru. Dominguez’s (Let’s Go, Hugo) gouache-and-ink spreads portray a red-cheeked Maria and a llama with a curiously human face in cultivated mountain fields and a tiled-roofed village. Some spreads show novel combinations of traditional and modern life: Maria wears an Andean hat with earflaps, a heavy cape, and sandals, but her knapsack looks like that of any North American schoolchild. Each line of the rhyme appears with Spanish text below it (“Why does the llama love Maria so?”/¿Por qué la llama le quiere tanto a María?”), and even readers unfamiliar with Spanish can probably decode a few nouns and verbs. As a bonus, the pages contain lots of visual information about Peruvian village life—the local market, the school, a traditional band—but Maria’s story takes center stage. She’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have to be an English speaker to be a nursery-rhyme hero. Likely to be of special interest to bilingual families and in elementary school classrooms. Ages 3–7. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/27/2013
Release date: 08/20/2013
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