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[Monday Reading] Year Of International Literature 2020

Bilingual picturebooks published in 2019.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

It will be 2020 in a few days’ time. Hence, we thought today will be perfect to launch our overarching theme for the coming year: Year Of International Literature or #ReadIntl2020. My reading goal for the year is to read and feature books coming from at least 30 countries.

Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Books that have been translated into English from their original languages.
  2. Bilingual books.
  3. Books published in English but written or illustrated by non-native English speakers.
  4. Books written or illustrated by People of Colour

We will still be having our usual quarterly reading themes which I will announce as well this week. For those who have been our blogging friends for awhile now, you would know that we also try to offer a measure of flexibility in terms of our themes, to provide us with access to a wider variety of reading materials. What can we do? There are simply books that manage to find us at the perfect moment, and we just have to share them with you all! Hence, there may be times when the books fit our quarterly reading theme, but may not necessarily fit our #ReadIntl2020. Alternatively, we may sometimes feature international titles that only fit very loosely to our quarterly themes. This gives us opportunity to maneouvre around our reading spaces, as it should be.

This week, I am happy to share these two bilingual titles that made me joyful. I hope they make you smile as well.

Salsa Lullaby [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Jen Arena Illustrated by Erika Meza
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (2019)
ISBN: 0525579737 (ISBN13: 9780525579731). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

This is a book best read with a great deal of music and movement. In fact, I think it will also work well as a board book since it has very few words – most are deliciously bilingual – with the art taking center stage.

In this story, we see a young family joyfully coming together in dance and song. I also especially liked how the father was reading to their child above, with the mother initiating the salsa, providing a delightful distraction from the quiet reading time.

Quite a number of Spanish words have made it into the Filipino lexicon – product of over 300 years of colonization. Hence, I know exactly what canta and bailar mean. I like how there is so much energy in this book that gradually dissolves into a gentle, soothing, lilting tone as the baby tires and sleeps:

This is a beautifully illustrated book filled with love and light. We need more of these in our lives.

My Papi Has A Motorcycle [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Isabel Quintero Illustrated by Zeke Peña
Published by Kokila (2019)
ISBN: 052555341X (ISBN13: 9780525553410). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

I have been seeing this book featured by our blogging friends over the past several months, and was thrilled to see it available on Overdrive.

This book resonated with me a great deal mainly because my boyfriend (now my husband) used to drive me around a motorcycle, so I know exactly the vrooooom sensation depicted below, and hanging on tight for dear life.

Similar to the picturebook above, there is a great deal of movement here – and understated love that is powerful, primarily because it is so subtle and real. There is also a very clear sense of place: This is the United States of America, and it is peopled with brown-skinned immigrants who have established their homes and identities in the country that supposedly is built on the hands and hard work of people who came from somewhere else.

There is also a clear sense of history that is strategically positioned in the narrative. And there are telling details: roughened hands of the father, lemon trees in Abuela’s home, shops that are closing down, this boy who calls out to our young female protagonist suggesting a small town where everybody knows everybody else – that demonstrate masterful storytelling.

The Author’s Note is also rich with a firm awareness of identity that is beautiful to read. I am fully expecting this book to win all the awards this year. Find it if you haven’t already!

#ReadIntl2020 Update: 2 of 30 (country) | Language: Spanish (bilingual)

Jen Arena is from the USA and Erika Meza is based in the United Kingdom.

Both Isabel Quintero and Zeke Pena are from the USA.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

11 comments on “[Monday Reading] Year Of International Literature 2020

  1. I love the call out to Lowriders in Space in the My Papi book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both the picture books look like a load of fun. Oh what a great theme for books in 2020, I hadn’t heard that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I tried to read more international literature this year and I think I did an okay job. See what I’ve been reading at Girl Who Reads


  4. crbrunelle

    The International challenge sounds like a good one. I am just now starting to think about reading goals so will keep that in mind. Thanks! I love My Papi Has a Motorcycle. My father also rode a motorcycle and I can really relate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dreamingofhygge

    I love that challenge idea! I might just have to join. 🙂


  6. Susie | Novel Visits

    I admire your goal of reading internationally and especially that you’re going for 30 countries. Best of luck finding great books worldwide.


  7. It will be wonderful to see the books you will share connected to your international challenge, Myra. I love My Papi Has a Motorcycle. I had a boyfriend (so long ago) who had one & loved every bit of the ride! The Salsa Lullaby sounds & looks very cute for the little ones! Thanks, and Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 30 Countries seems very doable. Good luck and I look forward to following along!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve read two great reviews about My Papi Has A Motorcycle today. It was already on my list, and my library even has it, but I am so overwhelmed with books at this time…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Salsa Lullaby looks fantastic, Myra! I hope we get a local copy of this — I just love it when bilingual books are written so that children can easily decipher the words like this. Thanks for sharing and I hope you’re having a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Sign Up For: Year of International Literature 2020 #ReadIntl2020

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