How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo se dice?

author: Angela Domínguez
illustrator: Angela Domínguez 
Henry Holt, 2016 

When two young giraffes—one who speaks Spanish and one who speaks English—discover each other at an acacia tree that provides a “delicious! / ¡sabrosa!” leafy meal for both of them and they can share water from the same small pond as well, they become instant friends. On elegantly designed double-page spreads that contain lots of white space—and a total of 24 words—the two see the tree (“Food!” / “¡Comida!”) hesitantly meet (“Hello?” / “¿Hola?”), discover everything they have in common, and, after their feast and a lively fiesta, they, of course, join together for a siesta. This last spread contains no white space, just the two giraffe bodies, leaning into each other amid a tangle of balloons, blissfully asleep.

Domínguez told me that her artwork in How Do You Say? is similar to her Lola Levine covers. For the giraffes, she began with pencil sketches on illustration board, on top of which she then glued tissue paper and digitally added layers of color. She painted the leaves, balloons and party hats with gouache and marker on illustration board, and then digitally “cleaned up” these images as well. An imaginative use of limited text, white space, and contrasting colors makes this sweet little book beyond adorable. 

Each double-page spread highlights the two young animals—or parts of them—as they meet, greet, and celebrate each other and their world. How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo se dice? is a gentle, sweet little book with a light-hearted message about similarities, differences and friendships that cross cultural barriers that are, after all, imaginary. Indeed, the youngest hablantes who may be learning English, bilingual kids, and children who don’t speak Spanish (yet) will love this—maybe as a group in a conversation about friendship during snack time and just before nap time. As Domínguez writes on the inside front jacket, “We may speak different languages, but friendship is universal!” / “¡Podemos hablar differentes idiomas, pero la amistad es universal!” Highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 9/3/17)

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