Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón by Elizabeth O. Dulemba - Book Review

We live in exciting times. Authors, illustrators, reviewers, publishers and readers all get the chance to correspond and interact with each other thanks in part to book blog networks. As a blogger I especially love working directly with children’s book authors and helping them get the word out about their latest books. I met author/illustrator and blogger Elizabeth O. Dulemba through the Yahoo kidlitosphere group. Each Tuesday on her website she posts amazing coloring pages for children to print out and enjoy. My daughter has worn out her markers coloring Dulemba's awesome pictures. If you spend time around kids, you'll want to print out a few for them to color, especially the holiday or book themed pages.

Next week on September 25th, Dulemba releases her picture book titled Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón. I'm the first stop on her Blog Tour. Elizabeth, thanks for introducing me to this book and your blog!

"Now Hugo was muddy and stinky too, but he still had to go to el mercado. To help him remember what he needed to buy, Hugo kept repeating, 'Soap! Soap! Soap! ~ ¡Jabón, jabón, jabón!'"
- Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Those familiar with Appalachian folktales will recognize the storyline of "Soap, Soap, Soap." The Jack Tales story has been retold many times and many versions exist. In Dulemba's updated adaption available in a bilingual format, a boy named Hugo walks to the local grocery store to buy soap for his mother. He takes the long route to the store and travels across a playground, down a sidewalk and by a ditch near his schoolyard. He runs into a number of obstacles along the way, gets mud all over his body and forgets the reason for his journey--the soap, soap, soap! The bilingual edition features Spanish expressions like el dinero, huevos, and ¡Ay caramba! effortlessly sprinkled into the English narrative. A vocabulary page at the end of the book provides an overview of all Spanish terms used.

If a muddy romp is your idea of good, clean, picture book fun, you'll enjoy reading Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón. The book is available in two different versions: bilingual and all-English. Although we received a galley of the all-English version, I actually prefer the bilingual book mainly because schools and libraries have a need for eye-pleasing bilingual picture books, especially folklore tales. Dulemba's bright illustrations reflect the light, playful tone of the text. My daughter loved the soap graphic underneath each page number and also liked the hilarious picture of a grocer pinching his nose to avoid smelling the stinky Hugo. She really liked tracing the dotted path Hugo takes on his journey to the grocery store, though we did notice the illustration is a bit different from the actual story sequence. Part of the fun of telling the original "Soap" tale is that the boy mindlessly repeats phrases over and over, trying to remember his goal. The repetition is somewhat missing in Dulemba's version, though it is implied. It's wonderful that Dulemba has reintroduced a lesser known folktale to the picture book audience.

Because I'd never heard of the "Soap" folktale until reading this version of the story, I asked Elizabeth when she first heard the Appalachian tale. Here's her reply:

"As far as SOAP - I've been a fan of Jack Tales for a long time. For my graphic design exit show I created a line of posters for the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. There I heard Ray Hicks (National Treasure) tell Jack Tales first hand. I don't know if I heard him tell it, or somebody else. But I still have the collection of Jack Tales (gathered by Richard Chase) dedicated to me by my Grandparents in 1975. Soap is in a later edition I picked up a while back. So, all said, it's probably been in my life for a long time, even though I can't pinpoint the first time I heard it. And I've heard some wonderful adaptations since as well, although it does seem to be a little lesser known story than say, "Jack and the Beanstalk" (an adaptation of that was the first book I illustrated for Raven Tree Press: Paco and the Giant Chile Plant). Glad I introduced you to something new!"

Besides the multicultural element of the book there's a lesson to be learned in this time-tested tale of forgetfulness and mud: Even though you may get side-tracked on your journey, don't forget where you are headed or what you started out to accomplish. That's wise advice for everyone to live by -- children, adults, new graduates, and yes, even bloggers.

Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. Raven Tree Press; (September 2009); 32 pages; Bilingual Edition: ISBN 9781934960622 hardcover; ISBN 9781934960639 paperback - English Edition: ISBN 9781934960646 hardcover; 9781934960653 paperback
Book Source: Galley provided for free by Raven Tree Press (Preproduction copy - Quotations should be checked against the finished book)

My daughter had a good time coloring the duck from Dulemba's story. Print your own picture at the Soap, Soap, Soap activity page!

Related links:
Elizabeth O. Dulemba - Author Website
Author Blog
Index of Appalachian Folktales - "Soap! Soap! Soap!"

View the Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón book trailer on YouTube:


Tina said...

Thanks for including links to my web site AppLit. I enjoyed reading this review and I can't wait to see this new book by Elizabeth Dulemba. I love the way she is linking Appalachian folktales with bilingual texts in picture books. Tina Hanlon

ibeeeg said...

This book looks like it will have great appeal to my six year old boy. He loves books with fabulous illustrations. Once hooked with the illustrations he then can get into the story.

Staci A said...

This sounds like a cute book! We love folktales, but we're not familiar with this one. I'll have to check it out, thanks!