It was both shocking and thrilling to open my new coloring book Color My Garden, no, Colorea Mi Jardîn, and see the Spanish words! I’ve long wanted to have my gardening books for kids translated into Spanish, and now, I’ve finally begun. What better way than to start with a coloring book? It’s a 32-page picture book where the kid readers provide the color. It’s all about birds, bees, butterflies, and bugs, with two or three sentences under each picture explaining how to make one’s garden more attractive to these creatures. Through simple line drawings, both English or Spanish-speakers will easily understand the how-to of the Spanish words. Complete with picture puzzles, glossary and word games, kids from 5-10 years will enjoy the experience of creating their own habitat gardens via the coloring book.
Here’s a secret: back in the early 90’s I took four Spanish classes at a junior college. I could translate pretty well, write it, and pronounce it. Speak it?? Nope, brain and mouth freeze. Living in California is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual experience, with English and Spanish dominating. I push myself to use Spanish on occasion to Spanish speakers. Present tense verbs are all I recall, so I add hand signals. We laugh. Many Spanish speakers I know are also English-learners; we help each other.
In essence, Colorea Mi Jardîn is also for me. I must pay more attention to what I’m reading and saying. I think: What if I’m visiting a school for a reading and a child asks me a question en español and I stumble, fumble and cannot answer it? What if I can barely read the words in the Spanish-language version? I’m hoping the children will encourage me. Heavens knows we all need encouragement when trying to learn a language other than our native tongue.
Perhaps the best way to learn either language is to have both versions side by side although it’s impossible to have a word for word translation. For instance, the four B’s that I often mention–birds, bees, butterflies, and bugs does not translate well to Spanish. There are no four B’s. Instead, there are påjaros, abejos, mariposas, and bichos! Same meaning but the alliteration is lost. Nor does the crossword puzzle work in Spanish; instead there is a word matching game.
Now, of course, I’m wondering if I ought to have my next children’s gardening book, Howie’s Hungabird Dilemma, translated in to Spanish, too. Guess that’s my dilemma–but I’m leaning toward sî. www.sandybakerwriter.com.