Bilingual Books

Gecko Press, Contemporary Books, Bilingual Books, 3 years +

Ko Wai E Huna Ana? (Who is Hiding?)

Words and illustration by Satoru Onishi

Te Reo Maori translation by Paora Tibble

Published by Gecko Press

My husband brought this bright coloured book home for my little one after a recent work trip to New Zealand. Bright and simple, each page has 18 cute animals posing with a question. Who is hiding? Who is crying? Who is backwards? Who is who? This book is fun and interactive and little ones will learn to name animals, colours, count and recognise expressions. 

Released to celebrate Maori Language Week in New Zealand, this book introduces beginner level Te Reo Maori. It is a great book for children and adults to learn Maori with the naming of animals. 

I love to include foreign language books in our little library. I don't for one minute kid myself that my little one will become a fluent speaker of another language because of the bilingual books we include in our library. However, I do believe that it is really important to introduce little ones to other languages at a young age so that they can start to think about their own cultural identity and their place within the world. And our indigenous cultures should be a part of this education. 

Originally published in Japanese, this book is also available in English and many other languages. With simple sentences and the focus on finding the odd one out on each page it did not matter that we can't read Maori. The question posed on each page was fairly obvious for the adult reader. However, I did check the english translation of each sentence just to be sure. Thank you google translate! 

This book is fantastic fun for young children but is just as suited to anyone who wants to learn Te Reo Maori. 

3 years +, Edizioni Corraini, Vintage Books, Bilingual Books

Bruno Munari's ABC

Words & Illustration by Bruno Munari

Published by Edizioni Corraini (Italian edition) and Chronicle Books (English edition)

I purchased this classic children's alphabet book from Present&Correct on a recent trip to London. The Italian edition of this book is a little bit harder to find than the English version but is worth hunting down as it includes all text in both Italian and English. I love to find bilingual books for my little library so I was very happy to find this one! 

Illustrated by the late great Italian artist & designer Bruno Munari, the book starts with an Ant on an Apple, and continues with a Blue Butterfly, Banana and a Book. As to be expected, the entire alphabet is illustrated. The book features many predictable items such as a dog, elephant and fish but there is also many fun and random inclusions such as a vertical violet violin and a watermelon on a wagon with a wooden wheel. The book is filled with lots of gorgeous details. Some of the illustrations do appear a little dated now (such as the Ticket & Telephone) but I think that they still remain easily recognisable. 

The letter 'F' is beautifully illustrated using a Fly, a Flower, a Feather, more Flies and a Fish. There is a pesky fly that breaks free of his own 'F' page and reappears throughout the book in the Green Grass ("still another fly!), under a Hammer ("look out, fly!") and close to an Icecream ("shoo, fly!"). Just as you think that the fly has disappeared, it reappears to the amusement of little readers on the letter 'V' as "a fly on a Voyage". The book ends with the fly making the final sound for the letter Zzzzzz.

Each letter of the alphabet is printed large and black and contrasts sharply with the crisp white pages. The book illustrations are bold and detailed using a great variety of gorgeous colours. Bright illustrations sit confidently within large areas of white space and Munari uses paint brushstrokes and gradients of colour washes to provide detail.  

Originally published in 1960, this classic alphabet book is funny, witty and beautifully illustrated. I love to include classic books by great artists in my little library and a children's book by Bruno Munari is definitely one to be shared with our littlest readers.

Reviewed by Georgia White