El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!

If you’re looking for a book for a child who’s scared to try new things, I have the perfect pick for you today. El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! by Donna Barba Higuera and Juliana Perdomo is a wonderful picture book teaching young readers to face their fears.

Title: El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!
Author: Donna Barba Higuera
Illustrator: Juliana Perdomo
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Published: July 13, 2021
Format: Picture Book

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! follows a young boy named Ramon who is settling into his new home, but is feeling nervous about his first day at school. El Cucuy (the Mexican Boogeyman) comes to scare Ramon at night, but Ramon has too many other fears to be afraid. But as it turns out, El Cucuy is scared, too. El Cucuy misses their home just like Ramon—he doesn’t like the new sounds of their home or that there are fewer dark spaces for him to hide in. Ramon and El Cucuy share their worries and build each other up to face the school day, realizing they are both brave and strong. I absolutely love El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! for all those young reader who need a reminder that they can do hard things.

The illustrations are fantastic, too. The bold colors throughout are eye catching, but I think my favorite part is how cute El Cucuy is. I never thought the Boogeyman could be so adorable!

There is quite a bit of Spanish peppered throughout the English text, but it is done seamlessly. It doesn’t read like a forced Spanish vocabulary lesson, but simply like a conversion between two bilingual friends. Presenting the opportunity to discuss Mexican folklore and the Spanish language, El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! would be a great addition to school and classroom libraries—especially for a first day read aloud.

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! is officially releasing tomorrow (July 13, 2021), but you can preorder a copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sending me a review copy of this adorable book. It was such a lovely read!

About The Author:

Donna Barba Higuera grew up dodging dust devils in the oilfields of central California. She was a daydreamer, constantly blending life experiences and folklore into stories. Now she weaves them into picture books and novels. Higuera currently lives among the spiraling mists of the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four children, three dogs, two frogs, and hundreds of wild birds who flock to her backyard birdfeeders every day. El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! is her debut picture book. She is also the author of the middle-grade novel Lupe Wong Won’t Dance.

You can find Donna online at her website dbhiguera.com, and on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About The Illustrator:

Juliana Perdomo is a Colombian illustrator and writer, with a background as a psychologist and art therapist. Her work is joyful and heartfelt, folkish, and a bit retro with a Latin touch. She has participated in different projects as an illustrator, this book being her debut in the United States. Perdomo lives in Bogotá, Colombia, with her amazing son Luca and a crazy old dog named Menta.

You can find Juliana online at her website julianaperdomo.com and on social media at Twitter, and Instagram.

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Bella’s Recipe For Success

They say the most successful people in life fail the most. I always try to remember this when I run into roadblocks in life, and today I want to share a book that illustrates this growth mindset perfectly for young readers. Bella’s Recipe for Success by Ana Siqueira is a wonderful picture book all about patience, practice, and polvorones.

Title: Bella’s Recipe for Success
Author: Ana Siqueira
Illustrator: Geraldine Rodríguez
Publisher: Beaming Books
Published: July 13, 2021

Bella’s Recipe for Success follows a young Latinx girl named Bella who is trying to figure out what she’s good at. Her sister is a talented gymnast and her brother is a talented musician, but Bella is struggling to find her hidden talent. She tries baking polvorones with her abuela, but her first attempt goes all wrong. Though she struggles, Bella learns that being good at something takes hard work, perseverance, and patience.

The illustrations by Geraldine Rodríguez are so fun! The way she captures the facial expressions of each character brings so much emotion and personality to every single page.

With Spanish vocabulary peppered throughout, Bella’s Recipe for Success would be a fantastic addition to classroom libraries. Plus, there’s a recipe for polvorones con dulche de leche that I can’t wait to try. My baking skills are not great, but I will take a lesson from Bella and practice.

Bella’s Recipe for Success is available next week (July 13, 2021), but you can preorder your copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Beaming Books for sending me a review copy of Bella’s Recipe For Success.

About The Author:

Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher and an award-winning children’s book author based in Tampa, Florida. Before Bella’s Recipe for Success, she published children’s books in Portuguese in Brazil and in Spanish for the foreign language educational markets. Ana is also a global educator, a PBS Media innovator, and an SCBWI member.

You can find Ana online on Instagram (@asiqueira1307), Twitter (@SraSiqueira1307), and at her website anafiction.com.

About The Illustrator:

Geraldine Rodríguez is a Mexican illustrator and digital artist who enjoys telling stories through colors and lines. In addition to Bella’s Recipe for Success, Geraldine is the illustrator of Cinco de Mayo and the Adventures of Samuel Oliver series.

You can find Geraldine online on Instagram (@geryrdzart) and Twitter (@GeryRdz).

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Four Picture Books To Celebrate World Arabic Language Day

Tomorrow, December 18th, is World Arabic Language Day. Established in 2010 by the United Nations, this holiday is intended to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity.

Living in a world where people are ridiculed for their differences, and more specifically a country where languages other than English are often dismissed, I feel it is incredibly important to embrace and celebrate languages other than English. This is especially true for those who, like me, only speak one language.

Though I am not bilingual, I have always been thrilled to pick up words from other languages throughout my life. From my “adopted” babushka and dedushka who tried to teach me Russian in my 20’s, to members of my childhood church who gave me Vietnamese lessons, I have always been amazed at the joy of being able to speak to someone in their native tongue. Even if it’s a simple “xin chào” or “spasiba”, I could let the people I loved know they were seen and appreciated by using these words.

I want to encourage my son to have this same respect for all languages, even if he is only ever fluent in English. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for picture books that introduce young readers to new languages. Some of my favorites highlight the Arabic language, and I thought they would be the perfect books to share today!

Please note: This article contains affiliate links, from which I will receive a small commission. This commission allows me to maintain this website and continue to bring new content to you.

Deep In The Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, Illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

In Deep In The Sahara we meet a young Arabic girl named Lalla who wants to wear a malafa (the colorful cloth worn by Muslim women in Mauritania) just like all the other women in her family. She talks to the women around her about how their malafa makes them beautiful, mysterious, traditional, or royal, but eventually learns the true reason they wear the malafa. This is a beautiful story of a young girl embracing the faith and traditions of her family. This book has a few Hassaniya (an Arabic dialect) words peppered throughout, which are a great way to teach young readers a new word or two!

Like The Moon Loves The Sky by Hena Khan, Illustrated by Saffa Khan

This beautifully illustrated book is a tender celebration of the unconditional love parents have for their children. Like The Moon Loves The Sky is inspired by the Quran, making it a great book for teaching religious acceptance while celebrating Arabic. The only Arabic word found in the book is “Inshallah” (translated to “if Allah wills” or “God willing”), but it is a beautiful introduction to the Arabic language none-the-less. This heartwarming book makes the perfect bedtime read, and a great gift for new parents.

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil, Illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

In The Arabic Quilt we meet Kanzi, who’s family has immigrated from Egypt. When Kanzi’s mom shows up at school one day to bring her kofta sandwich, Kanzi’s classmates don’t understand why her mother calls her habibti, and begin to tease Kanzi. That night she wraps up in her quilt from her teita (grandma) in Cairo and writes a poem. Her teacher finds the poem and allows Kanzi to bring the quilt in, inspiring the classroom to make an Arabic quilt of their own. This is a great story to encourage young readers to be curious about languages they don’t speak, and respectful of those who speak those languages.

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford

Silent Music is the story of a young boy named Ali who lives in Baghdad. Ali loves calligraphy and looks up to Yaqut al-Musta’simi, a famous calligrapher who is also from Baghdad. With illustrations depicting Ali’s beautiful Arabic calligraphy strung together like musical notes, this book is a stunning celebration of the written Arabic language.

I hope you enjoyed this list! If you would like to learn more about World Arabic Language Day, be sure to visit the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s website for more information!

What are your some of you favorite children’s books highlighting Arabic or other languages foreign to you? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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