What It's Like to Be... Book Reviews

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School Library Journal, January 2011

On What It's Like to Be América Ferrera/Qué se siente al ser América Ferrera, What It's Like to Be Sonia Sotomayor/Qué se siente al ser Sonia Sotomayor, What It's Like to Be Marta Vieira/Qué se siente al ser Marta Vieira and What It's Like to Be Shakira/Qué se siente al ser Shakira

These titles cover the lives of contemporary women who excel in very different fields. Each book chronicles the individual's childhood, education, and current achievements. For instance, children learn about Sonia Sotomayor's birth in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, her studies at Princeton and Yale, and her work for the New York State Court System before being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In Shakira readers discover how a childhood memory of homeless kids wandering in a park moved the superstar to help needy children in her native Colombia. Each book treats women with the same attention to detail and relevant photos, and child-friendly bilingual texts illustrate each point. Youngsters will enjoy learning about these personalities.

Booklist October, 2010

On What It's Like to Be América Ferrera/Qué se siente al ser América Ferrera, What It's Like to Be Sonia Sotomayor/Qué se siente al ser Sonia Sotomayor, What It's Like to Be Marta Vieira/Qué se siente al ser Marta Vieira and What It's Like to Be Shakira/Qué se siente al ser Shakira

Celebrity series are not only omnipresent, they're largely interchangeable. What gives these titles in the What It's Like to Be / Qué se siente al ser . . . series a larger reach is the bilingual focus. Each layout carves out spaces for both English and Spanish, and though the asymmetrical placement isn't especially conducive to word-to-word comparison, it is nonetheless a sturdy translation that will be appreciated by bilingual learners. The expected puffery pairs fairly dense blocks of cheery text with both staged publicity shots and grainier candids. The layout is simple but effective, with insets spotlighting secondary characters as well as oversized arrows clarifying group shots. America Ferrera follows the Ugly Betty star as she walks red carpets, signs autographs, and presents awards. Marta Vieira describes the four-time FIFA World Player of the Year as she performs admirably on and off the soccer field. Shakira makes vague references to the singer's altruism ("she tries to keep the ticket prices low") while keeping things frisky with shots of her famous midriff. Sonia Sotomayor is a standout, not only for well-chosen candids (she's almost unrecognizable chilling at a ballpark) but for a plethora of weird facts ("She enjoys eating pig intestines"). No source notes here, but a list of further reading will aid report writers in these titles good for entry-level celebrity worship.

School Library Journal

On What It’s Like to Be Ryan Howard/Qué se siente al ser Ryan Howard

Young readers follow the Philadelphia Phillies first baseman as he prepares for a typical game. The day-in-the-life story is accompanied by bright, full-color photographs with highlighted photo extras that add visual excitement to the quick read. The bilingual English and Spanish side-by-side text provides a balanced look at some of the player’s statistics and career highlights while focusing on daily activities like eating breakfast and playing video games. The authors promote a healthy lifestyle throughout by not only mentioning the nutritious food eaten and exercises performed by the star athlete but also by describing their purpose and importance. This book will be a great addition to children’s collections and an important one for biography reports. With an index, bibliography, and list of recommended sources for more information in both English and Spanish, this volume will be a hit.

Booklist, April 2010

On What It's Like to Be President Barack Obama/Qué se siente al ser el presidente Barack Obama

Part of the What It's Like to Be… series designed for bilingual English-Spanish readers or listeners, this title celebrates the president with simple texts and full-color photos that provide an approachable view of one day in the life of Mr. Obama. Sensitive to the likes and language of young children, it centers on ideas that they can understand. For example, although Obama prefers healthy food, he "often makes room for his favorite—a burger and fries." It also includes child-friendly scenes of life at the White House—Malia, Sasha, and their parents celebrating famous sports heroes at the White House or watching a 3-D thriller in the screening room. Especially noteworthy for Spanish speakers is the skillful Spanish text that follows the English in a lighter font, like the phrase "dares una escapadita," which is an apt yet pleasing-sounding way to say that Obama is slipping out with his vice president. A bilingual index and suggestions for further reading in both languages conclude this informative text for beginning readers of either language.

School Library Journal Criticas Connection, March 2010

On What It’s Like to Be President Barack Obama/Qué se siente al ser el presidente Barack Obama

This bilingual biography follows a day in the life of the president, including full-color photos. Smaller photos are layered on top of larger ones for further clarification. For example, a photograph of the president appears above a map of Hawaii, which is where he was raised. Other images and descriptions include a meeting with his cabinet, a press conference, as well as leisure time spent with his family and Vice President Biden. The last page includes an index and a list of articles, books, and web sites in both English and Spanish. Unfortunately, only one item on this list is appropriate for this audience. Nevertheless, the book is informative and clear, and children will enjoy the photos of President Obama with his family and dog.