Book review: Marta! Big & Small, by Jen Arena, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Arena, Jen. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. Marta! Big & Small. Roaring Book Press, 2016. $16.99. ISBN 9781626722439. Unp. Ages 2-6. P7Q7

Marta! Big & Small is a study of opposites and an introduction to the Spanish language through the animal world. The text is formulaic, providing each animal’s foremost characteristic as it equates to Marta. Marta is an “ordinary girl.” So, “To a rabbit, Marta is ruidosa. Loud, very loud. To a snake, Marta is sabrosa. Tasty, very tasty.” All Spanish vocabulary is defined in the text, reiterated with illustrations after the story, and presented in a glossary at back of the book. To children familiar with Dora the Explorer, Marta is a familiar character. She is a Spanish speaking girl with a purple backpack who explores the natural world and introduces vocabulary.

Verdict: This is a fine introduction to Spanish that is simple enough for very young children to memorize. The repetition of the vocabulary is helpful. Marta is not necessarily a unique character; this may be a plus for fans of Dora the Explorer. It is a good addition to public libraries and elementary classroom Spanish units.

May 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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