Welcome to the first instalment of book Fridays where I will share and review some of my recent reads as well as some books I’ve been reading to Diego. Today I want to share with you a wonderful ABC book that I stumbled upon completely by accident. ABC de Puerto Rico (written by Ruben del Rosario, Isabel Freire de Matos and illustrated by Antonio Martorell) was published in 1968 and was written for Puerto Rican children specifically. It is clear that Puerto Rican culture and language is celebrated in its pages. The woodcut illustrations are beautiful and the way the grain of the wood shows up in some of them is nothing short of amazing. I cannot find the source but I read that Mr. Martorell was given an award by the American Institute of Graphic Arts for his work on this book.
The short poems that accompany each letter are wonderful to read out loud and I have enjoyed reading them to Diego. They were written by Isabel Freire de Matos. She was was a writer, educator, journalist, and activist for Puerto Rican independence. It is no wonder that ABC de Puerto Rico was banned on the Island for its alleged anti USA sentiment. Personally, I do not find any evidence of this within its pages. All I see is a book that celebrates Puerto Rico, it’s culture, and its people. I suppose, for some that is all that is necessary to consider this book incendiary.
Raising a bilingual child is not easy and so I am always on the lookout for material in Spanish that will aid me in developing his language. Most of the bilingual material readily available treats Spanish as a language the child needs to overcome. Having a small piece of Puerto Rican history that Diego can grow up with feels invaluable. He does not have the benefit of growing up in a country where Spanish is the dominant language. Unlike my husband and I he will not grow up immersed in Puerto Rican or Nicaraguan culture. It is for this reason that we need to put in the effort to expose him to the things that we took for granted. I am grateful to be bilingual and bicultural and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want the same for my son. This book is part of the journey.
Below are some photos I took of some of my favorite illustrations. These photographs do not do them any justice.