illustrator: Manuel Monroy
translator (Spanish): Luis Barbeytia
(Spanish edition, CIDCLI /Brincacharcos, 2011 // English edition, Groundwood, 2011)
When his mother reminds young Chepito that today is his first day of school, the child informs her that he doesn’t want to go, and runs outdoors instead. As he traverses his community, Chepito meets a variety of people, each of whom he asks, “¿Qué estás haciendo?” (“What are you doing?”). Everyone’s engaged with a variety of reading materials, and Chepito sings, “¿Por qué? ¿por qué? ¿por qué?” (“Why, why, why?”) A man looks for stats to see who won the game, a girl enjoys a funny comic book, tourists consult a guide because they’re lost, a mechanic pores through an auto repair manual, a young woman scans a magazine for hairstyle ideas, and an archeologist studies hieroglyphics on a stela.
At school, Chepito is attracted by a shelf full of books, and when his teacher lets him borrow one, he runs home and begins to read. (Of course, our young emergent reader is decoding the pictures rather than reading the words, the first step in literacy learning and appreciating the written word.) Soon, he’s asking his younger sister, Rosita, if he can read her the book, and, bringing the story full circle, she sings, “Why, why, why?”
“Because it’s fun,” Chepito begins to say, but Rosita interrupts him: “Yes. Read it to me.”
Monroy’s characters have varied skin tones and facial features; and his softly-colored pencil, watercolor and digital illustrations, on a limited palette of mostly tans, browns, and greens, complement Amado’s rhythmic and pleasing economy of words. With just the right amount of repetition and humor, ¿Qué estás haciendo? and What Are You Doing? are perfect for emergent readers and are highly recommended.