cover image The Day Saida Arrived

The Day Saida Arrived

Susana Gómez Redondo, trans. from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel, illus. by Sonja Wimmer. Blue Dot, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-7331212-5-5

Author Redondo focuses on the jarring experience of being plunged into a new linguistic environment in this ideological picture book. Saida, who has recently moved from Morocco, arrives at her new school in tears; she speaks Arabic, but doesn’t speak her new country’s language (English, in Schimel’s natural-sounding translation). The narrator, Saida’s classmate, thinking that the new girl’s words are lost, looks for them everywhere (“under the tables, the blackboard, and the desks”) until her father explains that Saida’s words aren’t so much lost as situationally inoperative: “In Morocco... yours wouldn’t work either.” She decides to teach Saida “our words, and to ask her to teach me her own.” Dreamy artwork by Wimmer (Bogo the Fox Who Wanted Everything) uses surreal imagery to explore the children’s exchange: words float, fly, hang from a clothesline, and appear written on the hide of a hippopotamus. Each child’s knowledge and competence is equally valued as the two embark on a balanced friendship, one that involves shared meals and laughter in addition to shared language. Includes Arabic and English alphabets, and offers transliterations for Arabic words throughout. Ages 3–7. [em](Sept.) [/em]