“Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

No English

Book noenglish_fnlWritten by: Jacqueline Jules

Illustrated by: Amy Huntington

Published by: Mitten Press, Imprint of Ann Arbor Media Group LLC 2007

Ages: 5 – 10 years

Theme:   cross-culture friendship, misunderstanding

Opening sentence: “No English,” the new girl said, shaking her head. “Espanol.”   Her name was Blanca and she was from Argentina. Mrs Bertram gave her the empty desk next to mine.

Synopsis: From the back cover – Mrs Bertram asked her class, “Can you imagine what it’s like to be surrounded by people you don’t understand?” Can you?

From the front flap – “No English” is all that Blanca, the new girl from Argentina, says. She spends her time drawing pictures instead of doing class work and that hardly seems fair to second-grader Diane. One misunderstanding follows another until Diane begins to see how afraid Blanca must feel in their classroom. Their teacher, Mrs Bertram, helps her class understand that “different” is just different, not strange or weird. She encourages the students to learn about Blanca’s home country. Diane must make things right, but how will she do that when they don’t speak the same language?

Why I like this:   While the new girl Blanca and Diane became good friends, what resonated with me was the beautiful way two cultures came together. How two people from different countries learned to understand one another. As I read this story I was reminded of a holiday trip my husband and I did by bus from a small Austrian village into Hungry. We spent six days with a bunch of senior citizens who did not speak a word of English. I won’t go into details on how that happened. We communicated with drawing pictures on serviettes, pointing and a lot of laughing. We have stayed firm friends even today with two couples and their families.

This story also shows how something said or done can be taken out of context or misunderstood. Again I am reminded of a saying I came across on Facebook awhile ago. A friend commented she was “lucked out” on something she going for. My immediate thought was to respond with saying how sorry I was to hear this, as being “lucked out” in our neck of the woods and in the UK it means lost out or missed out. But after some time I checked back only to see others congratulating her. It seems “lucked out” can also mean fortunate, strike it lucky.

A useful resource in the classroom to help introduce those from different cultures it has lovely watercolours and explicit facial expressions.

Resources/Findings:   Here is Jacqueline’s blog with lots of interesting stuff….   http://www.jacquelinejules.com/NoEnglish.htm   check out Jacqueline reading the story to a Spanish classroom on her website.

A great resource for kids and teachers on learning another language through games and puzzles.. http://www.chillola.com/index.html/

Also what kids could do in the classroom is draw a map of the world and mark where each are from.  Study the country or area they are from, using quizzes and other material.  Dress up in the countries costume would also be a lot of fun.

Pop over  and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.

About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Folklore / multicultural, Literature, Picture Book Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to “Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

  1. This book looks wonderful! When my family lived overseas, there were a lot of misunderstandings – luckily all resolved happily, but it does make you feel uncomfortable.

    • Hi Wendy, yes I can understand how it would be hard living overseas. We thought of doing that once, but it never eventuated. Even now sometimes someone says something and I am wondering what they mean. Usually I will ask or ask why, I hate asking but it is the only way to learn and understand, or be understood. Thanks, Wendy.

  2. cassam101 says:

    It sounds a lovely story and so apt for today’s multicultural classrooms. It reminds me of our first visit to Turkey our children were five a seven and spent their days with Turkish children they couldn’t speak each others language but played from morning to night. We also spent an evening with German pensioners using hand gestures and some words we knew of each others language .

    • Hi Anne, yes children are resilient in getting along with someone even if they don’t quite know what is being said. They have such great imaginations. I laugh at your evening with the pensioners, guess you would know then what it was like for us And we spent 6 hilarious days with them.

  3. Reminds me of the book “I Hate English.” Must be such a challenge to immigrate here and try to learn our language. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

  4. I would think teachers would love to use this book as a resource in the classroom if they have a student who is an imigrant. Great way to teach kids about a different culture. And have the student teach the class basic Spanish as a way to empower the child. Great choice.

    • Yes, Pat, this is a great tool for in the classroom and should be in every library. Liked the idea of the child teaching Spanish to the students… Thanks.

    • clarbojahn says:

      I will use this in my ESOL classes as a volunteer with my students from all over the world. My last student was from Brazil and she knew a little bit of English but we worked on her getting her drivers license and since she was pregnant I taught her a lot about what to expect while expecting in America. It’s good to have a picture book as a reference. 🙂

  5. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    This looks like a great book for teachers. I know some communities where children likely feel this way due to the language. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Rosi says:

    This sounds like a book that will find it’s place in a lot of classrooms. Thanks for telling me about it.

  7. clarbojahn says:

    Thanks so much for making this your choice for today, Diane. As you can see from my comment to Patricia Tilton that I will use this reference with my ESOL students.

    I wish I had written this since as an immigrant to America from Holland when I was seven, I knew no English. We started school just two days after we arrived. I think I have PTSD from this stressful experience not even knowing how to ask how to go to the bathroom and never have ridden in a school bus or knowing when I’d see my mother again after school. I remember being terrified and crying a lot.

    I can”t wait to read this book!

    • First day of school can be hard enough as it is, for some young ones. I know it was for me being so shy, I cried too. But to attend a school at a totally different country must be very scary. I wonder if you could still write a story of your version. They need plenty of stories like this one, I am sure. Glad you like this choice and are using the reference. Happy to be of help, Clar. It sounds like you do a lot of wonderful (what we would call, I think) community work. Thank you, hope you find it, okay.

      • clarbojahn says:

        Thanks, Diane!

        I see I have too much to do to go to the library today but you can be sure since it is on my list I will look it up next time. In fact I think I will look it up on Amazon and have a copy of my own to use for ESOL sessions. Thanks again!

        Have a great weekend! 🙂

  8. Joanna says:

    What a great classroom book as so many classes around the world have children entering them who do not speak English. Great choice, Diane!

  9. This sounds like a wonderful book, Diane! I really want to read it to see how the girls work things out. There was a boy in my son’s class who had just come to the US from Thailand. He had to be in my son’s class which was 2 grades below where he should have been because he had no English. It was very tough on him for a while, but it all worked out okay in the end.

    • Kids are resilient and get there in the end. But if we can help make that transition so much more happier and easier for them. Then we certainly need more books like this one.
      Thank you for your comment, Susanna.

  10. What a scary and confusing experience it would be for a child to have to go to school without knowing the language. This sounds like an excellent book to deal with that!

  11. Yes it is scary and you’re right this is an excellent book for that. Thank you for your comment, Beth.

  12. I am definitely going to look for this… it sounds like a book every school should have in it’s library.

  13. This story sounds like the life of a dog! It does look like a good one for classrooms here. We often get students from other countries that don’t speak English. School can be so difficult. These kids usually can speak some dog though and I get to learn some Spanish or whatever. I’ll be looking for this book. Thanks for sharing.

  14. What a great title for our multicultural world! We live in Southern California where there are many non-English speakers. This would be a great title for my kids who were just asking questions about non English speakers.

  15. Thanks for the book review and the real-life examples. Fascinating!

    • It is fascinating, especially how one word or one phrase can be taken the wrong way and misunderstanding ensue. This is a great book to help kids overcome this and learn to adjust with people from different cultures. Thanks Joanne.

  16. Funny how language is such a powerful tool yet big misunderstandings can result from a different arrangement of words, misspellings, and of course, grammar! Thanks for sharing your story, I can picture you well on that bus!

    • Yes such a powerful tool indeed, Julie. Yet it can be the difference between friendships, enemies, and the building of relationships, in both business and domestic. The joining of cultures world wide.
      Thank you, the 6 day trip was wonderful. One old dear in her 90’s kept singing to my husband. She adored him. He always helped her on and off the bus and we stayed firm friends through google translation. They have since passed away, but we continue to keep in touch with their son and family. 🙂

  17. This is an awesome book choice! I love the examples you shared about your own life. I know I say things that other people think they mean other things even in the same language… I can’t imagine what it would be like being in a class with nobody who spoke my language.

  18. Thank you so much Erik. So glad you enjoyed this. Yes, you are right, I think we all slip up from time to time, not realising how what we say can be taken differently. It must be very scary for people from other countries. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  19. Thanks so much for writing about No English and linking the resources on my website. I am touched to hear it resonated with you.

    • Your very welcome, Jacqueline. I love multicultural stories and am hoping to get a couple of my own published someday. Hubby and I have travelled quite a bit and we have often come across areas where English is a second language. Thank you so much for your comment.

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