Hollywood Book Reviews We all know the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” yet in author Anelly Schwab Alfaro’s masterpiece titled Kingly and I: A Trip around a Sugar Cane Farm - from its cover to final page, the imagery, magic of the characters with language, peacefulness and life-giving food source of sugarcane, are homogenized into a classic book which is a must-read to youngsters. Let’s count the amazing aspects of this book. First and foremost is the bilingual printing of the story; Spanish and English. This is the perfect way to teach a foreign language to children – whether being Spanish to English or the other way around. Next, we see the artistic illustrations being printed to the edges of the pages using hand-drawn techniques surely impressive enough to capture the roaming eyes of children seeking non-verbal information from the pictures. Then we have the storyline itself of a young girl with her pony named Kingly riding around a sugarcane farm in the Dominican Republic. Putting all of these elements together, Anelly Schwab Alfaro has achieved what I already defined as a “masterpiece.” (obra maestra!) The girl is the narrator, which in a way enables all young children to imagine themselves in this role, personalizing the story in a very impactful way. Riding around the sugarcane farm reveals many cultural ways the land is farmed, crops are gathered, people use their resources of water, and showing a peaceful place which makes it for an inviting place to visit. Even the aroma of the sweet-smelling sugar is told in a way readers will imagine it for themselves – I imagined the smell of cotton candy being made. One day, the rain on the roof and the muddy fields made it a day for staying inside, not riding Kingly bareback around the farm. The next day, however, with the sun coming out and drying up the farm brings back a sense of normalcy and leaves to the ending of the book with a feeling of hope and optimism. There are many books being published into the crowed genre of illustrated children’s books, but few are as creative and educational as Kingly and I: A Trip around a Sugar Cane Farm. Less is more when it comes to children’s books as it is truly an art for an author to put themselves into the minds of youngsters to grab their attention. This is demonstrated with finesse and style, and is a must-have for all family libraries, as children will gravitate to reading this time-and-time again because of the good feelings it has to offer. Without even realizing it ~ they all will be learning, or at least becoming familiar with, another language.
Pacific Book Review Kingly and I: a Trip Around the Sugar Cane Plantation is a light hearted and touching memoir written in two languages by Anelly Schwab Alfaro. In this beautifully illustrated bilingual book, Alfaro recalls many wonderful memories with her best summertime friend – a horse named Kingly. This book has the potential to resonate with so many readers because who doesn’t remember those wonderful childhood summers spent outdoors? This book can take you all the way to the Dominican Republic on a nostalgic childhood road to your own past. Perhaps you also travelled to your foreign grandparents for summers, or remember spending a great deal of time with relatives while your parents worked. Not only is the book completely filled with wonderfully drawn pictures, it is also written in two languages. This is a great book to use in a classroom or homeschool unit about Latin America especially for older students who may be learning Spanish as a second language. This is also a wonderful story for native Spanish speakers to use since the author wrote the story in English as well. It is interesting to see how the writer tells the story in both languages as each language has its unique structure and rules. Another wonderful thing about this book is the strong bond between the horse and his rider – the narrator. She truly loves and cares for him as does he in return. Their friendship is truly magical and makes the story so fun to read. He is a favorite among everyone in the family – 19 cousins to be exact! The family life described in this book feels like a community because it is so big. The leaders are the strong and loving grandparents which love all of their grandchildren. The love between grandparents and their grandchildren is an unmatched relationship and it is so beautiful to read the different experiences and memories the author shares in her book. This book is a beautiful breath of fresh air to be included in any personal library. It is meant to be shared and enjoyed by readers of all ages and backgrounds. Anyone can learn something from this book, be it a lesson in friendship or a word or two in a new language. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and my son did too. He loved all the detailed pictures – this is a book for any and every age to enjoy