cover image Spanish Is the Language of My Family

Spanish Is the Language of My Family

Michael Genhart, illus. by John Parra. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5004-6

A Latinx child prepares for a school’s spelling bee in Spanish throughout this emotionally tinged bilingual picture book. The first to sign up because “Spanish is the language of my family,” the child narrator quickly begins reviewing words. Studying with Abuela brings new meaning to the exercise as she reveals that during her childhood, “The rule at school was ‘English only,’ ” and recalls the punishments that family members experienced for speaking Spanish. Genhart’s musing first-person text seamlessly switches between the languages, interspersing relevant Spanish terms (on a page about Abuela, “Fuerte is strong. F-u-e-r-t-e”) while showing powerful familial support that leads up to a final spelling bee word: “R-e-s-p-e-t-o.” Parra’s layered acrylics employ letters and patterns in scenes of home and school, portraying figures of various skin tones throughout this significant glimpse into one child’s claiming of their heritage. An author’s note and other back matter contextualizes the story. English and Spanish editions publish simultaneously. Ages 4–8. (July)