The books I alluded to yesterday are a set of 3 written and illustrated by Lynn Reiser, published by Greenwillow Books (an imprint of Harper Collins). One is called The Lost Ball/La pelota perdida (2002). Straight away I loved the endpapers which are filled with pictures of different kinds of balls: basketballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, golf balls, baseballs, yarn balls. It kind of acts as a visual glossary, but what is different about it, is there is only one language label beneath each ball, not two. So under some of the pictures of a baseball the label is ‘pelota de beisbol’ and under another the label is ‘baseball’. I liked this approach.
But the best bit was when I opened the story and saw how the author/illustrator/designer of the books (I’m not sure who makes these decisions, and it probably varies from publisher to publisher and maybe from book to book) had decided to represent Spanish and English on each page. The story is about two boys, each with a dog playing with a ball. For each dog the ball is thrown, and the dog brings back the wrong ball. The rest of the book shows the two boys searching for the owner of the ball their dog has brought back: “Is this your ball?” “No, our ball is a golf ball”. In the end the boys find each other and are able to exchange balls.
Most of the books I have been looking at present both languages on the same page, using some kind of visual cue to separate them. There is usually a space between the two texts, and often also some kind of small illustration or line between the two texts. Sometimes a large capital letter is used at the start of the paragraph (I believe these are called drop caps) using one colour for English and another for Spanish, and sometimes completely different colours are used for the entirety of each text. This is what The Lost Ball does: orange is used for English and green for Spanish, but the unique aspect of the design in this book is that the two texts are not always identical in meaning because each voice belongs to a different boy. On the first page there is an English voice in orange and a picture of Richard with an orange hat and giving his dog with an orange colour an orange ball, and below is a Spanish voice beside a picture of Ricardo in a green cap giving a green ball to a different dog with a green collar.
Throughout the book the orange text (English) belongs to the boy with the orange hat and the green text (Spanish) belongs to the boy with the green hat. On some pages the texts say the same thing: “Today is a good day to play ball in the park, Comet” and “Hoy es un lindo dia a la lepota en el parquet, Cometa”, and other pages the two texts are different: “Is this your ball? No, our ball is a tennis ball” and “Es esta to pelota? No, nuestra pelota es una pelots de basket” [Is this your ball? No our ball is a basketball]. Aside from the green and orange colours used for the text, the balls, the dog collars and the boys’ hats, and a range of colours used for the other balls featured, the illustrations are in black and white, and there is a wonderful double spread illustrations where both boys can be seen in the same location looking for the owner of their ball but not yet seeing each other. In this scene the boys each buy an icecream and cross to the other side of the page, and from then on the green text is on the LH page and the orange text is on the RH page. There is so much to see and work out visually! Of course, finally the boys meet each other, exchange balls, and play together. In the final page as they farewell each other, there is a mixing of the languages. I so enjoyed reading this book and working out the clever visual techniques used by the author/illustrator/designer!
Lynn Reiser has also written two other books in the collection about two little girls, Margaret and Margareta, and similar techniques are used for representing the two languages, this time with pink for English and blue for Spanish. In one book, the two little girls go to the park with their mothers and meet each other there. Despite not knowing each other’s language, they play, and by the time their mothers call them to go home, they are each using some of the other’s language (with its own colour) embedded in their own language: “Mama this is my amiga [friend] Margarita, and her gatita [toy cat], Susanna. We had a fiesta [party] and a siesta [nap]”. Note the square brackets are mine and are not needed in the book due to the context.
Ofelia Garcia talks about the idea of ‘translanguaging’, which is a term used to describe how multilingual people do not keep languages separate; they mix and mingle all of their linguistic resources according to context. This idea of keeping languages very separate on different pages or divided by colour can be seen as a very monolingual approach to language, but Lynn Resier’s books both come to a place where the languages are mixed in authentic ways. In a way her books kind of explain translanguaging and language acquisition to readers, and I really appreciate this approach.
Now, what treasures will I find today?