"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
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.
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