Drops of Life, Esko-Pekka Tiitinen,
The Word Collector, Sonja Wimmer,
Story of a Cockroach, Carmen Gil,
Cuento de Luz, April 2012, Madrid, Spain

Connie K. Ho takes us through a tour of Enlightening Stories

Independent Publishers Group has released translations of children’s storybooks by Spanish publisher Cuento de Luz in the U.S. For children who are interested in learning Spanish at home or in the classroom, it’s a helpful way to absorb the culture, get inspired by the fanciful characters, and take in important life lessons.

Drops of Life/Gotas de Vida, depicts the interactions between an owl, a whale, and a dove who work together to save the planet. They arrive at this point after discovering an uninviting desert that was once home to a magnificent thriving forest. The three solicit the help of a several other animals, the sun, the wind, and a villager to plant a tree and regenerate the forest. Throughout the book, one can’t help but notice the lush images by illustrator Nikolai Tiitinen. The fable by author Esko-Pekka Tiitinen introduces themes of overcoming obstacles, respect, and teamwork. If read side-by-side, the English translation works nicely with the Spanish text and the reader can gather an understanding of the story through the pairing of the words and images.

Apart from beautiful illustrations and imagery, the storybooks from Cuento de Luz offer a simple perspective on moral situations. One interesting point of view is presented in the Word Collector/La coleccionista de palabras by Sonja Wimmer. The book is about Luna, a passionate collector of words, who discovers that they are disappearing from the world. At the end, she learns to share her love of words and the importance of tolerance. The book is brought to life by images of flying words and bright colors. Readers leave with an appreciation for piecing words together and come to understand the importance of language.

Another unique perspective is provided by an insect, who undergoes the most unusual metamorphosis. It’s the hilarious adventure of Anastasia in Story of a Cockroach/Historia de una Cucaracha (pictured). Anastasia’s world is turned upside down when she’s changed into a princess by fairy Brunilda, but then she comes to dislike it and Brunilda transforms her into an heiress. However, in a fit of rage, Brunilda changes Anastasia back into a cockroach, which Anastasia is more than happy to be again. At the end of her journey, she comes to accept herself and her identity. Readers not only learn about compassion and positivity, but also the importance of humility.

Overall, the parables provided by Cuento de Luz are engaging and simple to understand. It’s a great way for young students to develop literacy in Spanish. Students will come away with new language skills and a fresh perspective on life.

Connie K. Ho is project editor at Language Magazine.