Isabel and Her Colores Go to School

Sleeping Bear. Jul. 2021. 40p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534110632.
PreS-Gr 3–Rojo, verde, azul, rosado, morado, violeta. Spanish-speaking Isabel, with brown skin and curly hair, loves coloring with her favorite crayons. What she does not like is that tomorrow is her first day of school where everyone will speak English. To Isabel, it “sounded wrong, like stormy blues and blizzard whites. Isabel preferred the pinks and yellows and purples” of her own language. Mami, also with brown skin and curly hair, drives Isabel to school where her racially diverse class begins the day with stretches. Her classmates stretch counting “one, two, three,” while Isabel counts “uno, dos, tres.” At story time, a Black girl named Sarah asks Isabel if she wants to be friends. Isabel does not understand the question, but at coloring time, with its familiar and comforting hues, she draws a picture for Sarah, visually explaining that she indeed wants to be friends. Dawson’s warm and radiant illustrations pulse with color as flowers and swirls weave through the backgrounds. This first day of school story beautifully serves as a mirror for children learning English and as a window into their experience for their classmates. Spanish words and phrases are sprinkled throughout the text with full Spanish translations on each spread. Back matter includes a glossary.
VERDICT A bilingual story sure to resonate with ELL students and instill empathy in their classmates.

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