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Author & Illustrator: Judy Martialay
Publisher: Polyglotkidz Press
ISBN: 978-0-99113-240-9

Let’s learn more about Mexican children. Let’s begin by learning their language, Spanish,” Pete the Pilot explains at the beginning of Judy Martialay’s children’s book, HOLA! Let’s Learn Spanish: Visit New Places and Make New Friends.

This thirty-six-page paperback targets children ages six to ten years old and their parents who want to learn Spanish. With no scary scenes, the tale contains some complicated wording for beginner readers. Colorful but sophomoric illustrations are on most pages. A website with a downloadable audio for correct word pronunciation is available.

This book teaching about Mexico and its culture, people, and language provides a story as well as educational tools. When Pete the Pilot flies the readers to the country, they meet Panchito, a Mexican jumping bean which is in a bean field, taken to market, sold in a store, and placed in a piñata to be found by friends.

The rest of the book covers practicing Spanish words, learning about people and things Panchito saw, making a mask out of beans, reiterating words in the language, and ending with acknowledgments. The readers get to converse, answer questions, have a treasure hunt, show daily expressions, read details about several objects, and sing a song.

I like that this book promotes learning through a story, following it up with reiteration, repetitiveness, and practice. Having all Spanish words in a bold font makes them easy to locate.

Due to the long paragraphs on the pages, it would best be read out loud to some children as it may frustrate some readers. Beginner readers may struggle with some of the three-syllable words. Some may find the book either too hard or simple to understand regarding Spanish words.

A retired teacher of elementary, middle, and high school, Martialay was born in New York. No information is available on the illustrator, so it is assumed it is the author.

I wish it had more detailed illustrations throughout the book, such as having the jumping bean stand out so young ones could search for it quickly on every page. I do not know if Page 19 was left blank intentionally.

If you are looking for a beginner book on learning Spanish from an English perspective, this may be a good choice. This would make a good start to a series on languages and cultures around the world.

Thanks to Bookpleasures and the author for this book to read and review.