When Judy Martialay, a retired French and Spanish teacher, asked me to review her book, ¡HOLA! Let's Learn Spanish, I was surprised and delighted at the same time. The reading of her book was a lovely surprise for me. And I must say that I really enjoyed it.
Aimed at children aged between 6 and 10 years of age, her book aims at making them discover the Spanish language in a children-friendly manner. The book is not a bilingual book, as many would imagine them. It is different and it opens to the discovery of a new language, Spanish. It all starts with an imaginary plane ride to Mexico. There the children meet Panchito the Mexican Jumping Bean and follow him in his adventures. Judy Martialay gives the reader a chance to discover Spanish words as they read through the story and discover the Mexican culture. This book is different from the many bilingual books I have read is such a way that it is not a translation of the story from English into Spanish, but allows the young reader to discover the Spanish language is a fun way. The addition of Spanish words in the story looks like using words in one language when you speak another one; and it is a great way to get the basic of the language, especially for young children who are not necessarily bilingual.
Extremely children-friendly, the book aims at teaching children basic Spanish words and phrases, at giving them a taste of the language. It is a fun book to read with colourful drawings and a lot of information. The pronunciation of the Spanish words can be found of the site: Polyglot Kidz (http://www.polyglotkidz.com).
This book is much more than just a story using Spanish words within the story. Judy Martialay goes further and offers an activity section where children can try the Spanish they discovered in the story and see whether they can use it. She really encourages them to use the language in everyday situations, with for example a treasure hunt around the house for some objects. Judy Martialay does not forget the culture linked to a language and has a cultural section that has been well researched. It is explained clearly for children to understand and discover another culture of the world. Children discover the type of Spanish used in Mexico, they learn about local food, customs, markets and piñatas.
Children like to sing and Judy Martialay does not forget it and present a song with its translation and music score; it is the traditional song that children sing when they go breaking a piñata. There is a craft section where children can create a mask made-up of beans, a very Mexican tradition. She ends up with a short memo of vocabulary.