Thursday, May 21, 2009

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor - Book Review and Giveaway

"Before you were here, mi amor, I wondered what you would be like. Would you smile and laugh? Would you look like Mami o Papi, o Abuela o Abuelo?" - Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha Vamos

Pregnancy is a time full of wonder, excitement and much preparation. Children often exhibit curiosity about their birth, especially when their own mother becomes pregnant. My daughter poured over the new baby and sibling themed books I brought home before her brother was born. It helped her prepare for a sibling, and she never seemed to exhibit an "adjustment period" because we involved her in the pregnancy. She especially loved hearing stories of when she was a baby growing inside my belly.

The newest "new baby" book out right now is an exceptional bilingual picture book by Samantha Vamos titled Before You Were Here, Mi Amor. In her book, Vamos describes a family's actions and thoughts as they prepare for a new baby's arrival. Told from the mother's loving viewpoint, the sweet, heartwarming story includes several family members--a father, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, uncle and aunt all helping out in some way. For example, Abuela (grandmother) carefully paints un cocodrilo, dos elefantes, and tres tigres on the baby's bedroom wall. Using a unique writing style, Vamos effortlessly blends basic Spanish words into English sentences. Colors, shapes, numbers, and all sorts of useful "beginner" Spanish terms are brought to life in Santiago Cohen's colorful, expressive illustrations that perfectly complement and add clarity to the text. A back-page glossary translates all the Spanish words used in the book.

While this book would obviously appeal to children of Hispanic/Latin descent, Vamos' creative use of numerous "beginner" Spanish terms also makes the book an ideal resource for families interested in teaching Spanish as a second language to their children. The book would make an appropriate gift for an expecting or new mother as well. Parents magazine just featured Before You Were Here, Mi Amor in the May 2009 issue.

My preschool-aged daughter easily picked up numerous Spanish phrases by reading this book along with me. She really liked the page showing the sister's drawing of the family for the baby. She drew one exactly like it for her baby brother before his birth. I must admit I stumbled some while reading the Spanish words. Luckily we were able to listen to a audio version on Cody's Cuentos so that we could learn the correct pronunciations of the many Spanish words. One last thing--I love that Cohen drew a mustache wearing father. My own father has sported one ever since I can remember but I rarely see a father with a mustache depicted in picture books. Hmmm, now I'm left wondering, what is the Spanish word for mustache?

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Santiago Cohen. Viking Children's Books - Penguin (March 2009); 32 pages

Related Links:
Samantha Vamos - Author Website
Santiago Cohen - Illustrator Website
Parents Magazine article "Books to Help Teach Kids About the World"
Before You Were Here Bilingual printable activities [pdf format]

Win a copy! Samantha Vamos has kindly offered to give away a copy of Before You Were Here, Mi Amor to a Brimful Curiosities reader.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this book review post or visit Samantha Vamos's website and let me know what you like best about it.

• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada
• Contest ends on Monday, June 1st, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random
Three more ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4):
1st extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
2nd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
3rd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.


Alice H said...

I love the trailer on her website - what a great idea for advertising a book! Thanks for the chance - alicedemskehansen at

Anonymous said...

I began learning Spanish in high school and took at least one class every semester through college. I would love to have this to have my son hear some spanish words from the beginning!
luckistarr4 AT gmail DOT com

Amy said...

I liked the activities to go along with the book on her site. Great idea!

LadyD Piano said...

I love the vivid colors and bright, happy music on her website. I'm following you, Google and Twitter, thanks!

Unknown said...

I would love an opportunity to read this book.

Shelley said...

Having my bi-lingual, Ecuadorian-American baby in October. I would love to read this to the little one!

Cascia Talbert said...

That sounds like a great book. Have a wonderful weekend! By the way, how is the weather back in Wisconsin? Is it getting warm yet? I talked to my parents a couple of days ago and they said it was still a little chilly.

Carlene said...

I love the fact that this books was featured in Parents magazine. Way to Go Samantha R. Vamos. I would love to share this books with my grandson, Carter. Please include me in your giveaway.


Belinda M said...

Checked out her site and I really like that there is a trailer to promote the book

Staci A said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. I love that it incorporates both English and Spanish, and can help little ones feel more ready for a sibling. Over on her site, I really like the word match. It would be a great teaching tool.

annies home said...

how great of a book this woudl be oh the excitement this book would create and a bond between those waiting for the new baby to arrive and the new baby. Oh how special this book is

Anonymous said...

I love the bilingual aspects. Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Stephanie said...

I'm always drawn to children's books with fun illustrations and lyrical text. This book appears to offer both.

I am very interested in teaching my 2-year-old daughter Spanish and reading this book together would be a good start.

A Reader said...

I visted her site and I like the visual layout (the flowers espe) and the topic -- bi lingual.
Thanks for the giveaway!


Nicole D. said...

We have a toddler and a baby on the way - this would be great to read to my daughter!

Pam said...

I love that the book is bilingual - language learning is so important and learning a second language is great for brain development. Plus the book sounds fabulous.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I like the word search puzzles on the website


wendy wallach said...

I love the title and the way that the subject matter is presented. Very relavant for our times.

madamerkf at aol dot com

Gaby317 said...

This looks great! It's perfect for my bilingual sister in law and her young girl, too!

Please count me in!

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Unknown said...

I like that it teaches Spanish words to children. Thanks.

gahome2mom at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

tweeted @gahome2mom

gahome2mom at gmail dot com

Win Before You Were Here Book @imbrimful

I like this book because I have one grandson that is part Puerto Rican/Italian and he could learn simple Spanish words. Thanks.

Teddy Rose said...

No need to enter me. It will be posted on my next Giveaways Galore post, this weekend.

Diana D said...

I would love to win this for my neighbor who is trying to teach her child Spanish. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway.

dianad8008 AT gmail DOT com

Kaizen Fashion Project said...

I love the illustrations, and positive message!

heatheranne99 at hotmail dot com

Roxana said...

I totally get what you're saying about how kids love to hear their birth story. My almost 3-year-old daughter just asked me to tell her the story tonight. She has always liked listening to it, but I think now more than before, because she is about to become the "big sister". Thanks to both you and Samantha R. Vamos for the giveaway!

Kelly said...

My sister is raising her first baby in a bilingual household, and I know she'd adore this book. What a great trailer!

Roxana said...

I blogged about your giveaway here:

Silvia said...

I was reading parents magazine and I saw this book and I though that it would be wonderful to have it. My son has been asking me were he was before my husband and I got married and I think books like this will help us to answer this questions in a better way.

I'm happy so know that you have a giveaway about it. And I would like to participate in it.


Anonymous said...

I love books such as this one that have beginner's Spanish words in them. My daughter loves books so much that she picks right up on lots of news words when I read to her.
yeloechikee at hotmail dot com

Silvia said...

I blogged about your giveaway at

soliluna said...

Oh this book looks maravilloso! I am 39 weeks along and due any day so I was super excited to read your review! Please enter me in the giveaway!

ABCD Diaries said...

This sounds great! I would love to share it with my sister who is expecting:) Thanks for the chance:)

Unknown said...

I love how this book uses both English and Spanish. While I am not bilingual I really hope to teach Brea some spanish when she is little. I think this book would be an excellent help!