Children’s Book BUZZ: Say Hello

Title: Say Hello

Author: Rachel Isadora

Illustrator: Rachel Isadora

Age/Grade: 3-5 years old

More info: Penguin Random HouseSay Hello Book Cover

Narration:

Language: English with some Spanish words

Dialect: Mainstream American English

Dialogue:

Language: English, “Hello” phrases in 9 other languages

Dialect: Mainstream American English

Vocabulary:

There are instances to learn how to say hello in Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Spanish, Swahili, Japanese, Mandarin, and Hebrew.

There are also small words in Spanish like “huevos con tocino” and the artwork shows other food vocabulary in different languages as well.

Main character: Carmelita, a young girl who is Latina. Perhaps of Dominican background.

People images: Positive diverse images of people of all shades from all different ethnic backgrounds. I love the artwork of the city (I’m no artist, but it’s a collage of sorts) and the way that all the characters she meets are beautiful shades of brown and beige and tan. Every child can see someone who resembles herself/himself in this book. What is also fantastic about the artwork is that Ms. Isadora makes the clothes and the food fit the words. So, on the page where Carmelita is saying hello in Arabic, the Muslim women are dressed in their hijabs and the word “Halal” is displayed.

There is one instance of African Americans, and I like the different shades of brown that Isadora uses to depict them.

Nonmainstream features include: There is not one instance of a White middle-class MAE speaking child in this book. On almost every page you can see cross-cultural differences in the skin colors, the words, the clothes, the food, and the background images. Just awesome.

My thoughts:

I love this book. I love that it is for the younger kids, which means they will get a very early taste of cultural and linguistic differences. I used to live in NY too, so I’m sure I’m a bit biased about the NYness of the entire book.

My one comment of what I would have liked to see in this book, is a nod to the “Wuzzup” and the “Yo” that were said by the African American characters. Maybe Isadora could’ve added “dialect” to her list in the back of the book. Without that, it seems that the way the African American characters said “hello” was not as validated as the different ways the other characters said “hello.” I really just need children’s book authors to talk about dialect and use dialect in their work in a positive way.

What kids might take away from reading this book:

I think that kids are gonna learn that there are more ways to speak than just the way that *they speak. There are opportunities here to explore different languages as well as the different clothes we wear, the different foods we eat, the different skin colors we are. I think that this could be a great project for a young class to learn that “international” differences take place right here on our own street, in our own schools.

Maybe even have kids do a project where they need to identify the different ways people say “hello” and include dialect. Divide it between languages and dialects of English or dialects of Spanish, etc. Really, there is so much that a teacher or parent can expose a child to while reading this book. A lot of great opportunities here!

Again, I love this book. I think you will too. Looking forward to reading more from Rachel Isadora.  :)