Friday, May 1, 2015


Phew! I survived thirty days of writing poetry with the incomparable Mary Lee Hahn and several others! Mary Lee wrote some incredible poems this month, and you should really head over to one of her blogs, YEAR OF READING or POETREPOSITORY, to read them.

When I'm not writing (bad) poetry, I'm a teacher at a Dual Language school (English and Spanish) in Denver. (I'm not fluent in Spanish, not yet anyway, but I do speak enough to get by). We struggle constantly to find high quality materials in Spanish. Recently, I've come across two terrific new bilingual poetry books.

Poet/artist Maya Christina Gonzalez fell in love with trees when she was thirteen, and  moved from the desert to Oregon. CALL ME TREE/LLAMAME ARBOL is an extended metaphor comparing the growth of a tree to the growth of a child. Each page includes a gorgeous illustration as well as several lines of the poem, in both English and Spanish. Young children will love the sound of the words, but it would also be a terrific book for studying extended metaphor with older students.
Llamame árbol/porque/soy alto/soy fuerte/ y como un árbol/ soy libre 
(I apologize for not setting this up like a traditional poem. I'm not sure why, but Blogspot keeps making it run altogether. I've typed it three times and am out of time!)

Call me tree
I am tall
I am strong
And like a tree
I am free. 

Pat Mora has written many books-- two of my favorites are TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY and ! Mmmm! Mmm! Qué Rico! (I apologize- Exclamation marks in Spanish are a little different, but Blogspot is being ugly this morning). Pat's newest book celebrates the movement and power of water, around the world and through the seasons.

Water rolls, water rises,
water rests, water plunges,
Water swirls, water slides

El agua rueda, el agua sube,
El agua descansa, el agua se sumerge,
El agua gira, el agua resbala

Mora's poetry is accompanied by artwork by Meilo So (PALE MALE, WATER SINGS BLUE). End pages include not only a bilingual author's note, but also references to what part of the world served as the inspiration for the art. I love this!



Linda B said...

I love both of these, Carol, just wrote about Call Me Tree. The words are wonderful, but the illustrations are so good I wanted to look again and again. Glad you've seen them, too!

Gathering Books said...

While I don't speak spanish, I am bilingual and it is often difficult to find books that capture bilingual poetry.
Thanks for sharing these too. I love the water poem. I like the image it conjures in my head, as well as the sound of it when you read it out loud.

jama said...

Thanks for featuring these. Looking forward to seeing both books!

Ramona said...

I love Water Sings Blue, so it's fun to see that one of these books has the same illustrator. I love the books that I meet through reading blogs. Thanks for sharing two new books for me.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Thanks for this, Carol--I've made it a pledge to include more bilingual poems in my teaching next year, and these will both be so useful for our curriculum. Muchas gracias!

Mary Lee said...

Wasn't it fun to write...BOOK REVIEWS?!?! (even though Blogger was being a pest) I went and worked in the school land lab all morning. Now I must recover my identity as a reader!

Vanessa Vaile said...

I met Francisco X Alarcón -- teacher and bilingual poet -- at UC Davis and love his work.

He's on <a Facebook too