Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nina Bonita

Nina Bonita is a Kane/Miller import by Ana Maria Machado and illustrated by Rosana Faria. It was first published in Brazil under the title, Menina Bonita, and there is also a Spanish version. I love the way picture books show culture. That's a simple statement but here is an example: "Her hair was curly and pitch black, as if made of unwoven threads of the night. Her skin was dark and glossy, just like a panther in the rain." I know the Portuguese language is lyrical, but this translation is well done. The story is about a white rabbit who falls in love with a little girl who, "... would look just like a princess from the Continent of Africa or a fairy from the Kingdom of the Moon." The rabbit asks her many times why she is so dark and pretty. She tells him a few silly reasons like, "When I was a baby I ate lots of blackberries."

Finally he learns the secret. She looks just like her grandmother. The illustrations appear to be colored pencil drawings. The fine detail shows many scenes of Brazilian life. There are illustrations of musicians, dancing, people gossiping, preparing the table for a meal, and time spent at the beach. This is not a new book, but one worth checking out at your library for all the wonderful cultural references and way of looking at racial differences.

My friend Maria had a great idea for her birthday this year. She raised money for Room to Read, an organization that provides long-term scholarships to girls in rural areas around the world. Their mission is, World Change Starts with Educated Children. They work to publish local language children's books, establish bi-lingual libraries, and set up computer labs. Maria raised enough to sponsor a girl's education for a year and buy more books. Way to go Maria! -Makes you think of all we take for granted and grateful for what we have.

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